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  • WordNet 3.6
    • n besom a broom made of twigs tied together on a long handle
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Besom A brush of twigs for sweeping; a broom; anything which sweeps away or destroys. "I will sweep it with the besom of destruction.""The housemaid with her besom ."
    • v. t Besom To sweep, as with a besom. "Rolls back all Greece, and besoms wide the plain."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n besom A brush of twigs for sweeping; hence, a broom of any kind.
    • n besom A name given to the common broom of Europe, Cytisus scoparius, and to the heather, Calluna vulgaris, because both are used for besoms.
    • n besom [Pron. biz′ um.] A contemptuous epithet for a low, worthless woman.
    • besom To sweep as with a besom.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Besom bē′zum an implement for sweeping, a broom: any cleansing or purifying agent:
    • n Besom bē′zum (Scot.) a term of reproach for a woman
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. besme, besum, AS. besma,; akin to D. bezem, OHG pesamo, G. besen,; of uncertain origin
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
A.S. besema, besma; a common Teut. word; Ger. besen, Dut. bezem.


In literature:

Let ilka man soop the ice wi' his ain besom.
"The Proverbs of Scotland" by Alexander Hislop
For I needed no besoms, nor even no dagger, but the mere shadow of my beard upon the cobbly stones of Paris sufficed.
"Privy Seal" by Ford Madox Ford
The number of the deade was such that might be swepte uppe with besomes, and bushels filled weyth them.
"Notes and Queries, Number 231, April 1, 1854" by Various
Then we'll send down an army of owld women with besoms to sweep ye into the Atlantic.
"Ireland as It Is" by Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
Her mither is an able besom, and her young ladyship is verra deep.
"Graham of Claverhouse" by Ian Maclaren
The besoms and three-legged stools took the right form of the women, and prevented a too early discovery.
"Witch Stories" by E. Lynn (Elizabeth Lynn) Linton
Go hide under the besom and stay there until I call you.
"Czechoslovak Fairy Tales" by Parker Fillmore
Must Trade, then, turn scavenger, tradesmen turn out With besom and basket to keep their ways clean?
"Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 93, July 16, 1887" by Various
From my crown they cut the branches, And they bind them into besoms.
"Kalevala, Volume II (of 2)" by Anonymous
Now, purge me this city as with a besom of wrath.
"Valeria" by William Henry Withrow
SPEAKER been going about with a besom brushing away Instructions.
"Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 98, June 21 1890" by Various
They will sweep thee up with a besom.
"Pictures of German Life in the XVth XVIth and XVIIth Centuries, Vol. II." by Gustav Freytag
Yon's twa weavers and a mason cursing the laird, and the man wi' the besom is the Master of Crumnathie.
"The Little Minister" by J. M. Barrie
It is this terrible besom of the Southern seas that so nearly has taken Galveston off the map.
"The Complete Story of the Galveston Horror" by Various
When he awoke he found himself riding on a broom near Doon-na-shee, and the little man riding on another besom by his side.
"More Celtic Fairy Tales" by Various
Be off to Dame Buffle's and buy me a besom, you ungrateful monkey: and then you turn to and dust these chairs.
"Mrs. Halliburton's Troubles" by Mrs. Henry Wood
Your rag and your besom have cost me at least sixteen currency dollars this morning.
"Flower, Fruit, and Thorn Pieces;" by Jean Paul Friedrich Richter
Mary worked briskly with her besom.
"In the Days of the Guild" by Louise Lamprey
He swept so madly and so blindly with his besom that he swept on to their heels and their ankles.
"Sea and Sardinia" by D. H. Lawrence
You only require a besom and a purse, and a block of warehouses.
"The Confessions of a Collector" by William Carew Hazlitt

In poetry:

Follow the Romany patteran
Sheer to the Austral Light,
Where the besom of God is the wild South wind,
Sweeping the sea-floors white.
"The Gipsy Trail" by Rudyard Kipling
Sweep, flaming besom, sweep from sight
The lies of time; be swift to smite,
Sharp sword of God, all idols down,
Genevan creed and Roman crown.
"Hymn of The Dunkers" by John Greenleaf Whittier
"'Too long the Saxon churl
Our land encumbered hath;
Arise my Prince, my Earl,
And brush them from thy path:
Rise, mighty Smith, and sveep 'em vith
The besom of your wrath.'
"The Three Christmas Waits" by William Makepeace Thackeray
Let ev'ry corner of thy house be kept
Quite clean (with nought impure let it be stain'd!)
And with the besom of repentance swept,
'Till thou the favour of thy God hast gain'd.
"Advice To Ev'ry Master Of A Family, To Govern His House In A Religious Manner" by Rees Prichard