Entries linking to axle-tree
"pole or pin upon which a wheel revolves" (properly, the round ends of the axle-tree which are inserted in the hubs or naves of the wheels), 1630s, from Middle English axel-, from some combination of Old English eax and Old Norse öxull "axis," both from Proto-Germanic *akhsulaz (source also of Old English eaxl "shoulder," oxta, ohsta "armpit," which survived as dialectal oxter; also Old Saxon ahsla, Old High German ahsala, German Achsel "shoulder"), from PIE *aks- "axis" (see axis, which is from the Latin cognate of this Germanic word). Found only in compound axle-tree before 14c.
Old English treo, treow "tree" (also "timber, wood, beam, log, stake"), from Proto-Germanic *trewam (source also of Old Frisian tre, Old Saxon trio, Old Norse tre, Gothic triu "tree"), from PIE *drew-o-, suffixed variant form of root *deru- "be firm, solid, steadfast," with specialized senses "wood, tree" and derivatives referring to objects made of wood.
The line which divides trees from shrubs is largely arbitrary, and dependent upon habit rather than size, the tree having a single trunk usually unbranched for some distance above the ground, while a shrub has usually several stems from the same root and each without a proper trunk. [Century Dictionary]
The widespread use of words originally meaning "oak" in the sense "tree" probably reflects the importance of the oak to ancient Indo-Europeans. In Old English and Middle English also "thing made of wood," especially the cross of the Crucifixion and a gallows (such as Tyburn tree, famous gallows outside London). Middle English also had plural treen, adjective treen (Old English treowen "of a tree, wooden"). For Dutch boom, German Baum, the usual words for "tree," see beam (n.). Meaning "framework of a saddle" is from 1530s. Meaning "representation of familial relationships in the form of a tree" is from c. 1300. Tree-hugger, contemptuous for "environmentalist" is attested by 1989.
Minc'd Pyes do not grow upon every tree,
But search the Ovens for them, and there they be.
["Poor Robin," Almanack, 1669]