AskDefine | Define broom

Dictionary Definition



1 a cleaning implement for sweeping; bundle of straws or twigs attached to a long handle
2 any of various shrubs of the genera Cytisus or Genista or Spartium having long slender branches and racemes of yellow flowers
3 common Old World heath represented by many varieties; low evergreen grown widely in the northern hemisphere [syn: heather, ling, Scots heather, Calluna vulgaris]


1 sweep with a broom or as if with a broom; "Sweep the crumbs off the table"; "Sweep under the bed" [syn: sweep]
2 finish with a broom

User Contributed Dictionary

see Brom



  • , /bɹuːm/, /br\u:m/


  1. Fibers bound together at the end of a long handle, used for sweeping.
  2. An implement with which players sweep the ice to make a stone travel further and curl less; a broom or sweeper.
  3. Any of several shrubs in the subfamily Faboidae.
    • See wikipedia article on


fibers bound together at the end of a long handle, used for sweeping
  • Bosnian: metla
  • Chinese: 掃把
  • Croatian: metla
  • Czech: koště, smeták
  • Dutch: bezem
  • Finnish: luuta
  • Galician: vasoira
  • German: Besen
  • Greek: σκούπα (skoúpa), φρόκαλο (frókalo), σάρωθρο (sárothro)
  • Hebrew: מטאטא (mat'at'e)
  • Japanese: (ほうき houki)
  • Kurdish:
  • Nahuatl: malinalli
  • Polish: miotła, szczotka
  • Russian: метла, веник
  • Serbian:
    Cyrillic: метла
    Roman: metla
  • Slovene: metla
  • Swedish: kvast
sweeper in curling
  • Finnish: harja
  • German: Besen


  1. To sweep.
    • 1855 September 29, Charles Dickens, "Model Officials", in Household Words: A Weekly Journal, Bradbury and Evens (1856), page 206,
      “[…] Sidi, I was busy in the exercise of my functions, occupied in brooming the front of the stables, when who should come but Hhamed Ould Denéï on horseback, at full gallop, as if he were going to break his neck. […]”
    • a1857, William Makepeace Thackeray, Our Street, in Christmas Books: Mrs. Perkins's Ball, Our Street, Dr. Birch, Chapman & Hall (1857), Our Street page 8,
      It was but this morning at eight, when poor Molly, was brooming the steps, and the baker paying her by no means unmerited compliments, that my landlady came whirling out of the ground-floor front, and sent the poor girl whimpering into the kitchen.
    • a1920, Opal Stanley Whiteley, The Story of Opal: The Journal of an Understanding Heart, Atlantic Monthly Press (1920), pages 58–59,
      After that I did take the broom from its place, and I gave the floor a good brooming. I broomed the boards up and down and cross-ways. There was not a speck of dirt on them left.
    • 1972, Charles Manby Smith, Curiosities of London Life: or Phases, Physiological and Social, of the Great Metropolis, Routledge, ISBN 0714624268, page 52,
      The broken-down tradesman, the artisan out of work, the decayed gentleman, the ruined gambler, the starving scholar,—each and all we have indubitably seen brooming the muddy ways for the chance of a halfpenny or a penny.
    • 1997, Will Hobbs, Far North, HarperCollins, ISBN 0380725363, page 100,
      We broomed the dirt floor clean with spruce branches, brought our gear inside, and moved in.
    • 2006, Cary J. Polevoy, MS Toolkit: The Patients’ & Caregivers’ Guide to Multiple Sclerosis, Lulu Press, Inc., ISBN 1847287204, page 130,
      I slept in again, got up, had breakfast and broomed the recent snowfall off the car and made a valiant effort to shovel off our teeny porch, then a 2 p.m. psychotherapist appointment.
  2. To travel by car or another fast vehicle.


to sweep



  1. bromine



  1. bromine

Extensive Definition

A broom is a cleaning tool consisting of stiff fibres attached to, and roughly parallel to, a cylindrical handle, the broomstick. In the context of witchcraft, "broomstick" is likely to refer to the broom as a whole. A smaller whisk broom or brush is sometimes called a duster.

Brooms and witchcraft

Brooms have long been connected with witchcraft, almost universally portrayed as medieval-style round brooms and associated with female witches. Despite the association with women, in 1453, the first known case of claiming to have flown on a broomstick is recorded, confessed by the male witch Guillaume Edelin. There are, however, prior records of witches flying on sticks or similar objects, usually that had been first greased with a magical flying ointment. TO BE SHOVED DOWN ESAPAGUS ON FATHER"S DAY!
Anecdotally, the broom served another purpose during periods of persecution. Witches and other magic practitioners would disguise their wands as broom sticks to avoid suspicion. It is also a tradition that brooms have been used by some as receptacles to harbor temporarily a particular spirit.
Today the broom is included in lists of ritual tools in many pagan guide books, where it is often referred to as a besom. A broom is sometimes laid at the opening of some covens' rossets. Representing the Element of Air, brooms are utilized in the purification of areas. They are used to sweep ritual circles clean of negative energy. The high priestess or high priest walks clockwise, traces the cast circle and sweeps with the broom a few inches off the ground. This practice can be used in addition to or in place of incense to purify a ritual space. It is often employed by those allergic to incense, and during rituals practiced in smoke-free areas. It is also a technique associated with "kitchen witches" who use what's on hand to work spells.
As a tool of purification, decorative brooms are sometimes hung near doors to cleanse those entering a house.
A fictional spaceman's tool and movement aid called a "broomstick" occurs in Islands in the Sky and 2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke.

In literature and poetry

  • In the Bible, Luke 15:8 "The Parable of the Lost Coin", the broom is used as a symbol for women's work. "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?"
  • Poets use the broom in metaphor making. In one of Emily Dickinson's poems Mother Nature, Nature ". . .sweeps with many colored brooms, and leaves the shreds behind. . ."
  • The Harry Potter book series is distinctive in portraying magical flying brooms as used equally by both sexes, and especially prominently by Quidditch players as analogues of polo ponies.
  • Many toys and costume accessories have been made in the form of brooms.
  • In Fantasia, Mickey Mouse, as The Sorcerer's Apprentice, brings a broom to life to do his chore of filling a well full of water. The broom overdoes its job and when chopped into pieces, each splinter becomes a new broom that flood the room until Yen Sid stops them. The brooms have had recurring cameos in Disney media, mostly portrayed as janitors, albeit not out of control or causing chaos such as in the original appearance.

In cultural tradition

  • An African American wedding tradition incorporates the use of the broom. The custom is called "jumping the broom." During the years of slavery in the United States, some slave owners would not let their slaves marry in a church ceremony. Instead a broom was placed across a doorway. The bride and groom jumped over it into their new life as a married couple. Today the custom incorporates a broom decorated to the bride's specifications, and it becomes a wedding keepsake.
  • The Métis people of Canada have broom dancing in their cultural heritage. There are broom dancing exhibitions where people show off their broom dancing skills. The lively broom dance involves fast footwork and jumping.

Other use

  • Brooms are sometimes put to punitive use, such as a caning or a birching.
  • In baseball, when the home team is close to accomplishing a sweep (having won the first two games of a three-game series or first three games of a four-game series), some fans will bring brooms to the ballpark and brandish them as a way of taunting the visiting team.
  • Because of their similarities to fighting staves, broomsticks may be used as weapons by those trained in staff martial arts techniques.
  • Many navies around the world have a tradition of lashing a broom to the mast or highest antenna or tower on their ships when they are returning to port after successful missions. This is a sign that there has been a "clean sweep" of the seas.


Dundes, A. (1996) "Jumping the Broom": On the origin and meaning of an African American Wedding Custom. The Journal of American Folklore. 109 (433) p.324-329.Retrieved on May 19, 2007 from the Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Library at
Gabriel Dumont Institute. (2001). Broom Dance, Metisfest 2001. Retrieved on May 18, 2007 from The Virtual Museum of Metis History and Culture. Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research.
broom in Aymara: Pichaña
broom in Catalan: Escombra
broom in Czech: Koště
broom in Danish: Kost (redskab)
broom in German: Besen
broom in Estonian: Luud
broom in Emiliano-Romagnolo: Graneda
broom in Spanish: Escoba
broom in French: Balai
broom in Korean: 비 (도구)
broom in Indonesian: Sapu
broom in Italian: Scopa (strumento)
broom in Hebrew: מטאטא
broom in Luxembourgish: Biesem
broom in Dutch: Bezem
broom in Japanese: 箒
broom in Polish: Miotła
broom in Portuguese: Vassoura
broom in Quechua: Pichana
broom in Russian: Веник хозяйственный
broom in Sicilian: Scupa (arnisi)
broom in Simple English: Broom
broom in Finnish: Luuta
broom in Swedish: Kvast
broom in Telugu: చీపురు
broom in Yiddish: בעזים
broom in Chinese: 帚

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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