beech

[OE] Like many other tree-names, beech goes back a long way into the past, and is not always what it seems. Among early relatives Latin fāgus meant ‘beech’ (whence the tree’s modern scientific name), but Greek phāgós, for example, referred to an ‘edible oak’. Both come from a hypothetical Indo-European *bhagos, which may be related to Greek phagein ‘eat’ (which enters into a number of English compounds, such as phagocyte [19], literally ‘eating-cell’, geophagy [19], ‘earth-eating’, and sarcophagus). If this is so, the name may signify etymologically ‘edible tree’, with reference to its nuts, ‘beech mast’. The Old English word bēce’s immediate source was Germanic *bōkjōn, but this was a derivative; the main form bōkō produced words for ‘beech’ in other Germanic languages, such as German buche and Dutch beuk, and it survives in English as the first element of buckwheat [16], so named from its three-sided seeds which look like beech nuts. It is thought that book may come ultimately from bōk- ‘beech’, on the grounds that early runic inscriptions were carved on beechwood tablets. => BOOK, BUCKWHEAT, PHAGOCYTE, SARCOPHAGUS

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.

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  • Beech — Beech, n.; pl. {Beeches}. [OE. beche, AS. b?ce; akin to D. beuk, OHG. buocha, G. buche, Icel. beyki, Dan. b[ o]g, Sw. bok, Russ. buk, L. fagus, Gr. ? oak, ? to eat, Skr. bhaksh; the tree being named originally from the esculent fruit. See {Book} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • beech — (n.) O.E. bece beech, from P.Gmc. *bokjon (Cf. O.N. bok, Du. beuk, Flem. boek, O.H.G. buohha, Ger. Buche, M.Du. boeke beech ), from PIE root *bhagos beech tree (Cf. Gk. phegos oak, L …   Etymology dictionary

  • beech — [ bitʃ ] noun beech or beech tree count a large tree with smooth gray BARK and small nuts a. uncount the wood of a beech tree …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • beech — beech; beech·en; beech·nut; …   English syllables

  • beech|en — «BEE chuhn», adjective. 1. made of the wood of the beech. 2. of or having to do with the beech or its wood …   Useful english dictionary

  • beech — [bēch] adj. [ME beche < OE boece, bece: see BOOK] designating a family (Fagaceae, order Fagales) of dicotyledonous trees, including the oaks and chestnuts n. 1. any of a genus (Fagus) of trees of the beech family, with smooth, gray bark, hard… …   English World dictionary

  • beech|y — «BEE chee», adjective. 1. of or having to do with the beech. 2. abounding in beeches …   Useful english dictionary

  • beech — [bi:tʃ] n [U and C] [: Old English; Origin: bece] a large tree with smooth grey ↑bark (=outer covering) , or the wood from this tree …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • beech — ► NOUN ▪ a large tree with smooth grey bark and hard, pale wood. ORIGIN Old English …   English terms dictionary

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