• synonyms


verb (used without object)
  1. Chiefly British. to entertain by dancing, singing, or reciting on the street or in a public place.
  2. Canadian. to make a showy or noisy appeal.
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Origin of busk

1850–55; perhaps, if earlier sense was “to make a living by entertaining,” < Polari < Italian buscare to procure, get, gain < Spanish buscar to look for, seek (of disputed orig.)
Related formsbusk·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for busk

Historical Examples of busk

  • I have left the responsibility with Busk whether or no to read the letters.

    The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume II (of II)

    Charles Darwin

  • I have heard a rumour that Busk is on our side in regard to species.

  • Wake thy sister, and arise both, and busk (dress) you quickly.

  • The trait "underground world" is also found in Busk, p. 141.

    Italian Popular Tales

    Thomas Frederick Crane

  • It's no that difficult to busk the hooks; maybe you would be liken' to try.


    Janet Milne Rae

British Dictionary definitions for busk


  1. a strip of whalebone, wood, steel, etc, inserted into the front of a corset to stiffen it
  2. archaic, or dialect the corset itself
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Word Origin for busk

C16: from Old French busc, probably from Old Italian busco splinter, stick, of Germanic origin


  1. (intr) British to make money by singing, dancing, acting, etc, in public places, as in front of theatre queues
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Derived Formsbusker, nounbusking, noun

Word Origin for busk

C20: perhaps from Spanish buscar to look for


verb (tr) Scot
  1. to make ready; prepare
  2. to dress or adorn
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Word Origin for busk

C14: from Old Norse būask, from būa to make ready, dwell; see bower 1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for busk


"strip of wood, whalebone, etc., used in corset-making," 1590s, probably from French busc (16c.), from Italian bosco "splinter," of Germanic origin (see bush (n.)).

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"to prepare, to dress oneself," also "to go, set out," c.1300, probably from Old Norse buask "to prepare oneself," reflexive of bua "to prepare" (see bound (adj.2)) + contraction of Old Norse reflexive pronoun sik. Most common in northern Middle English and surviving chiefly in Scottish and northern English dialect. Related boun had the same senses in northern and Scottish Middle English. Related: Busked; busking.

The nautical term is attested from 1660s (in a general sense of "to tack, to beat to windward"), apparently from obsolete French busquer "to shift, filch, prowl," which is related to Italian buscare "to filch, prowl," Spanish buscar (from Old Spanish boscar), perhaps originally from bosco "wood" (see bush (n.)), with a hunting notion of "beating a wood" to flush game.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper