(1 syl.). When Delilah asked Samson what would effectually bind him he told her “green withes,” but when she called in the Philistines he snapped his bonds like tow. Also spelt with. A boy, being asked what part of speech is with, replied a noun, and being reproved for ignorance made answer: “Please, sir, Samson was bound with seven withs.”
“It seems impossible that Samson can be held by such green withes [i.e. that a great measure can be carried by such petty shifts].” —The Times.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894