The name Witch in witch-hazel has its origins in Middle English wiche, from the Old English wice, meaning "pliant" or "bendable". "Witch hazel" was used in England as a synonym for Wych Elm, Ulmus glabra; American colonists simply extended the familiar name to the new shrub. The use of the twigs as divining rods, just as hazel twigs were used in England, may also have, by folk etymology, influenced the "witch" part of the name.
Forms: OE wice, wic, wyc, ME–16 wyche, 15–17 wich, (15 wi(t)che, wiech, wech(e, weach, 16 weech), 15– wych, witch.... (Show More)
Etymology: Old English wiceand wic; apparently < Germanic wik-to bend (see wike n., week n., weak adj.).... (Show More)
Applied generally or vaguely to various trees having pliant branches: esp.
†a. the wych elm n., Ulmus montana (of which bows were made).
Forms: ME– vice(ME–15 Sc.wice), ME–15 vyce(ME–15 Sc.wyce); ME vise, wise, wisse; ME vys, vijs( vyhs, Sc.vis), 15 vyss, Sc.wys.... (Show More)
Etymology: < Anglo-Norman and Old French vicemodern French vice, = Provençal vici, Spanish vicio, Portuguese vicio, Italian vizio), < Latin vitiumfault, defect, failing, etc.... (Show More)
a. Depravity or corruption of morals; evil, immoral, or wicked habits or conduct; indulgence in degrading pleasures or practices.