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Broom and Besom Word Origins

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A besom is what we think of as a witch’s broom, a bundle of twigs lashed to a handle. The word is from the Old English besema which was once the common word for a broom.

However the twigs often came from the shrub called broom and over time the name of the plant was transferred to the long-handled brush, which is now usually called a broom rather than a besom.

Broom is cognate with bramble and comes from a root that originally seems to have meant any kind of thorny bush.

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