Word of The Day for Monday, June 6, 2011


busk (busk)

v intr
1. to entertain in a public place for donations
2. to make a showy or noisy appeal (Canada)

busked past participle; busked past tense; busking present participle; busks 3rd person singular present; busker noun

v tr
1. to make ready; prepare
2. to dress or adorn 

busked past participle; busked past tense; busking present participle; busks 3rd person singular present


a strip of whalebone, wood, steel, etc, inserted into the front of a corset to stiffen it

"to offer goods for sale only in bars and taprooms," 1851 (in Mayhew), perhaps from busk "to cruise as a pirate," which was used in a figurative sense by 1841, in reference to people living shifless and peripatetic lives; the nautical term is attested from 1660s (in a general sense of "to tack, to beat to windward"), apparently from obs. Fr. busquer "to shift, filch, prowl," which is related to It. buscare "to filch, prowl," Sp. buscar (from O.Sp. boscar), perhaps originally from bosco "wood" (see bush), with a hunting notion of "beating a wood" to flush game

"to prepare, to dress oneself," also "to go, set out," c.1300, probably from O.N. buask "to prepare oneself," reflexive of bua "to prepare"; most common in northern M.E. and surviving chiefly in Scottish and northern English dialect

"whalebone" 16th C; from Old French busc , probably from Old Italian busco  "splinter, stick", of Germanic origin

Sentence Examples:
• We chatted very pleasantly on the road, and it was agreed, with no dissentient, that I should call at the first tavern we came to in Brighouse, and do a bit of busking. - Adventures and Recollections, Bill o'th'Hoylus End

• They clung to the skirts of the theatre for a bit. But the theatre, aching to be "in it", flung them off. The intellectual drama had no use for them, no use at all. And so they found themselves (out of it indeed) busking on the pavement, doing tricks and tumbling and singing silly songs to the unresponsive profiles of long lines of ladies (high-nosed or stumpy-nosed ladies), waiting admittance to the matinĂ©es of some highly intellectual play. - The Harlequinade, Dion Clayton Calthrop and Granville Barker

• When the affair has been brought to a happy issue, she attends, in an official capacity, the busking of the victim; and when she sees her at length assume the (lace) veil, and prepare to go forth to be actually married—a contingency she had till that moment denied in her secret heart to be within the bounds of possibility—she falls upon her neck as hysterically as a regard for the frocks of both will allow, and indulges in a silent fit of tears, and terror, and triumph. - Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, 1852

• At that moment the Master of Horse suddenly left the Duke and turned toward the stables. "Busk yourselves for the road, fair sirs," he called, as he passed. "We march after matins to-morrow. - Beatrix of Clare, by John Reed Scott

Sources: Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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