1. <botany> Any tree or shrub of the genus Salix, including many species, most of which are characterised often used as an emblem of sorrow, desolation, or desertion. "A wreath of willow to show my forsaken plight." . Hence, a lover forsaken by, or having lost, the person beloved, is said to wear the willow. "And I must wear the willow garland For him that's dead or false to me." (Campbell)
2. A machine in which cotton or wool is opened and cleansed by the action of long spikes projecting from a drum which revolves within a box studded with similar spikes; probably so called from having been originally a cylindrical cage made of willow rods, though some derive the term from winnow, as denoting the winnowing, or cleansing, action of the machine.
Origin: OE. Wilowe, wilwe, AS. Wilig, welig; akin to OD. Wilge, D. Wilg, LG. Wilge. Cf. Willy.
(01 Mar 1998)
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