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To hang out the besom. To have a fling when your wife is gone on a visit. To be a quasi bachelor once more. Taking this in connection with the following phrase, it evidently means, holding the marriage service in abeyance.

“This is French argot. Rotir le balaí (to burn the besom) means to live the life of a libertine, whence balochard, Paris slang for a libertine. Probably our phrase, “burn the bellows,” is pretty much the same as rotir le balai.

Jumping the besom. Omitting the marriage service after the publication of banns, and living together as man and wife. In Southern Scotch, a street-walker is called a besom, and in French balai (a besom) means the life of a libertine, as Rôtir le balai; Il ont bien rôti le balai ensemble, where balai means a debauch or something worse. No further explanation can be needed or could be given.


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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Bertram (Henry)
Bertram, Count of Rousillon
Bertram Risingham
Berwicks [Stock Exchange term]
Beryl Molozane
Berzak [the interval]
Besants or Bezants
Beside the Cushion
Bess o Bedlam
Bess of Hardwicke
Bessemer Iron
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Best Man (at a wedding)
Best Things (The Eight)
Bestiaries or Bestials