Burmese Look up Burmese at Dictionary.com
1823 (adj.), 1824 (n.), from Burma + -ese.
burn (n.) Look up burn at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, "act of burning," from Old English bryne, from the same source as burn (v.). Until mid-16c. the usual spelling was brenne. Meaning "mark made by burning" is from 1520s. Slow burn first attested 1938, in reference to U.S. movie actor Edgar Kennedy (1890-1948), who made it his specialty.
burn (v.) Look up burn at Dictionary.com
12c., combination of Old Norse brenna "to burn, light," and two originally distinct Old English verbs: bærnan "to kindle" (transitive) and beornan "to be on fire" (intransitive), all from Proto-Germanic *brennan/*brannjan (source also of Middle Dutch bernen, Dutch branden, Old High German brinnan, German brennen, Gothic -brannjan "to set on fire"), from Proto-Germanic *brennan "to burn," from PIE root *gwher- "to heat, warm." Related: Burned/burnt (see -ed); burning.

Figuratively (of passions, battle, etc.) in Old English. Meaning "cheat, swindle, victimize" is first attested 1650s. In late 18c, slang, burned meant "infected with venereal disease." To burn one's bridges (behind one) "behave so as to destroy any chance of returning to a status quo" (attested by 1892 in Mark Twain), perhaps ultimately is from reckless cavalry raids in the American Civil War. Slavic languages have historically used different and unrelated words for the transitive and intransitive senses of "set fire to"/"be on fire:" for example Polish palić/gorzeć, Russian žeč'/gorel.
burnable (adj.) Look up burnable at Dictionary.com
1610s, a hybrid from burn (v.) + -able.
burner (n.) Look up burner at Dictionary.com
late 13c., also as a surname, Brenner, "person who makes bricks," agent noun from burn (v.)). As a name for a part of a lamp where the flame is applied, from 1790. Of gas-cooking stoves, by 1885.
burning (adj.) Look up burning at Dictionary.com
Old English in the literal sense; c. 1300 figurative, present participle adjective from burn (v.)). Burning question matches French question brûlante, German brennende Frage. Burning bush is from Exodus III. Burning glass is attested from 1560s.
burnish (v.) Look up burnish at Dictionary.com
early 14c., from Old French burniss- present participle stem of burnir, metathesis of brunir "to shine, gleam, sparkle" (trans.), "to polish, make sparkle, make bright, shine," from brun "brown; polished," from Frankish or some other Germanic source (compare Old High German brun, Old Norse brunn "bright, polished; brown"), from Proto-Germanic *brunaz (from PIE root *bher- (2) "bright; brown"). The connection to "brown" might be explained if the original objects in mind were wooden ones. Related: Burnished; burnishing.
burnout (n.) Look up burnout at Dictionary.com
also burn-out, "drug user," by 1972, slang, from the verbal phrase, from burn (v.) + out (adv.). Meaning "mental exhaustion from continuous effort" is from 1975.
burnsides (n.) Look up burnsides at Dictionary.com
style of facial hair consisting of side whiskers and a mustache (but clean-shaven chin), 1875 (singular; plural form from 1878; many early uses are in college and university magazines), a reference to U.S. Army Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside (1824-1881) of Civil War fame, who wore them and inspired the style. Compare sideburns.
burnt (adj.) Look up burnt at Dictionary.com
past participle adjective from alternative past participle of burn (v.). Burnt offering (late 14c.) is biblical (see Exodus xx.24, Mark xii.33).
burp Look up burp at Dictionary.com
1932, noun and verb, American English, apparently imitative. The transitive sense of the verb is first recorded 1940. Related: Burped; burping. Burp gun attested from 1945.
burqua (n.) Look up burqua at Dictionary.com
see burka.
burr (n.) Look up burr at Dictionary.com
"rough sound of the letter -r-" (especially that common in Northumberland), 1760, later extended to "northern accented speech" in general. Possibly the sound of the word is imitative of the speech peculiarity itself, or it was adapted from one of the senses of bur (q.v.), perhaps from the phrase to have a bur in (one's) throat (late 14c.), which was a figure of speech for "feel a choking sensation, huskiness." OED says the Scottish -r- is a lingual trill, not a true burr.
burrito (n.) Look up burrito at Dictionary.com
Mexican food dish, 1934, from Spanish, literally "little burro" (see burro).
burro (n.) Look up burro at Dictionary.com
"donkey," 1800, from Spanish burrico "donkey," from Late Latin burricus "small, shaggy horse," probably from burrus "reddish-brown," from Greek pyrros "flame-colored, yellowish-red," from pyr (genitive pyros) "fire" (from PIE root *paewr- "fire"). Or, for its shaggy hair, from Late Latin burra "wool."
burrow (v.) Look up burrow at Dictionary.com
c. 1600, "to place in a burrow, from burrow (n.). Figuratively (such as to burrow (one's) head) by 1862. Intransitive sense, "to bore one's way into, penetrate" is from 1610s, originally figurative (literal sense, of animals, attested by 1771). Related: Burrowed; borrowing.
burrow (n.) Look up burrow at Dictionary.com
"rabbit-hole, fox-hole, etc.," c. 1300, borewe, from Old English burgh "stronghold, fortress" (see borough); influenced by bergh "hill," and berwen "to defend, take refuge."
burry (adj.) Look up burry at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., "full of burs;" see bur + -y (2).
bursa (n.) Look up bursa at Dictionary.com
by 1788 as an English word in physiology, shortened from medieval Latin bursa mucosa "mucus pouch," from Medieval Latin bursa "bag, purse," from Late Latin bursa, variant of byrsa "hide," from Greek byrsa "hide, skin, wine-skin, drum," which is of unknown origin; compare purse (n.).
bursar (n.) Look up bursar at Dictionary.com
"treasurer of a college," 1580s, from Anglo-Latin burser "treasurer" (13c.), from Medieval Latin bursarius "purse-bearer," from bursa (see purse (n.)). Related: Bursarial.
bursary (n.) Look up bursary at Dictionary.com
"treasury," 1690s, from Medieval Latin bursaria "treasurer's room," from bursarius (see bursar).
bursitis (n.) Look up bursitis at Dictionary.com
1834, "inflammation of the bursa;" also see -itis.
burst (n.) Look up burst at Dictionary.com
1610s, "act of bursting," from burst (v.). Meaning "a spurt" (of activity, etc.) is from 1862. The earlier noun berst (early Middle English) meant "damage, injury, harm."
burst (v.) Look up burst at Dictionary.com
Old English berstan (intransitive) "break suddenly, shatter under pressure" (class III strong verb; past tense bærst, past participle borsten), from a West Germanic metathesis of Proto-Germanic *brest- (source also of Old Saxon brestan, Old Frisian bersta, Middle Dutch berstan, Low German barsten, Dutch barsten, Old High German brestan, German bersten "to burst"), from PIE root *bhres- "to burst, break, crack."

The forms reverted to brest- in Middle English from influence of Old Norse brestan/brast/brosten, from the same Germanic root, but it was re-metathesized late 16c. and emerged in the modern form, though brast was common as past tense through 17c. and survives in dialect.

Of extended or distended surfaces from 1530s. Figuratively, in reference to being over-full of excitement, anticipation, etc., from 1630s. Transitive sense ("to cause to break") is from late 13c. Meaning "to issue suddenly and abundantly" is from c. 1300 (literal), mid-13c. (figurative). Meaning "break into sudden activity or expression" is from 1680s. Related: Bursting.
burthen Look up burthen at Dictionary.com
see burden.
bury (v.) Look up bury at Dictionary.com
Old English byrgan "to raise a mound, hide, bury, inter," akin to beorgan "to shelter," from Proto-Germanic *burzjan- "protection, shelter" (source also of Old Saxon bergan, Dutch bergen, Old Norse bjarga, Swedish berga, Old High German bergan "protect, shelter, conceal," German bergen, Gothic bairgan "to save, preserve"), from PIE root *bhergh- (1) "to hide, protect" (source also of Old Church Slavonic brego "I preserve, guard"). Related: Buried; burying. Burying-ground "cemetery" attested from 1711.

The Old English -y- was a short "oo" sound, like modern French -u-. Under normal circumstances it transformed into Modern English -i- (in bridge, kiss, listen, sister, etc.), but in bury and a few other words (as in merry, knell) it retained a Kentish change to "e" that took place in the late Old English period. In the West Midlands, meanwhile, the Old English -y- sound persisted, slightly modified over time, giving the standard modern pronunciation of blush, much, church.
bus (v.) Look up bus at Dictionary.com
1838, "to travel by omnibus," from bus (n.). Transitive meaning "transport students to integrate schools" is from 1961, American English. Meaning "clear tables in a restaurant" is first attested 1913, probably from the four-wheeled cart used to carry dishes. Related: Bused; busing.
bus (n.) Look up bus at Dictionary.com
1832, abbreviation of omnibus (q.v.). The modern English noun is nothing but a Latin dative plural ending. To miss the bus, in the figurative sense of "lose an opportunity," is from 1901, Australian English (OED has a figurative miss the omnibus from 1886). Busman's holiday "leisure time spent doing what one does for a living" (1893) is probably a reference to London bus drivers riding the buses on their days off.
busboy (n.) Look up busboy at Dictionary.com
also bus-boy, 1913, from bus (v.) in the restaurant sense + boy.
busby (n.) Look up busby at Dictionary.com
"fur hat worn by hussars on parade," 1807, earlier "a kind of bushy, tall wig" (1764), of unknown origin, though it is both a place name and a surname in England. Related: Busbied.
bush (n.) Look up bush at Dictionary.com
"many-stemmed woody plant," Old English bysc, from West Germanic *busk "bush, thicket" (source also of Old Saxon and Old High German busc, Dutch bosch, bos, German Busch). Influenced by or combined with cognate words from Scandinavian (such as Old Norse buskr, Danish busk, but this might be from West Germanic) and Old French (busche "firewood," apparently of Frankish origin), and also perhaps Anglo-Latin bosca "firewood," from Medieval Latin busca (whence Italian bosco, Spanish bosque, French bois), which apparently also was borrowed from West Germanic; compare Boise.

In British American colonies, applied from 1650s to the uncleared districts, hence "country," as opposed to town (1780); probably originally from Dutch bosch in the same sense, because it seems to appear first in English in former Dutch colonies. Meaning "pubic hair" (especially of a woman) is from 1745. To beat the bushes (mid-15c.) is a way to rouse birds so that they fly into the net which others are holding, which originally was the same thing as beating around the bush (see beat (v.)).
bush league (adj.) Look up bush league at Dictionary.com
"mean, petty, unprofessional," 1906, from baseball slang for the small-town baseball clubs below the minor league where talent was developed (by 1903), from bush (n.) in the slang sense of "rural, provincial," which originally was not a value judgment.
bushed (adj.) Look up bushed at Dictionary.com
"tired," 1870, American English, perhaps from earlier sense of "lost in the woods" (1856), from bush (n.).
bushel (n.) Look up bushel at Dictionary.com
early 14c., measure of capacity containing four pecks or eight gallons, from Old French boissel "bushel" (13c., Modern French boisseau), probably from boisse, a grain measure based on Gallo-Roman *bostia "handful," from Gaulish *bosta "palm of the hand" (compare Irish bass, Breton boz "the hollow of the hand"). The exact measure varied from place to place and according to commodity, and since late 14c. it has been used loosely to mean "a large quantity or number."
bushido (n.) Look up bushido at Dictionary.com
1898, from Japanese, said to mean literally "military-knight way."
bushing (n.) Look up bushing at Dictionary.com
"metal sleeve fitted into a machine or hole," 1839, from gerundive of bush "metal lining of the axle hole of a wheel or touch hole of a gun" (1560s), from Middle Dutch busse "box" (cognate with the second element in blunderbuss).
Bushman (n.) Look up Bushman at Dictionary.com
1785, from South African Dutch boschjesman, literally "man of the bush," from boschje, from Dutch bosje, diminutive of bosch, bos (see bush (n.)).
bushwa (n.) Look up bushwa at Dictionary.com
also bushwah, 1920, U.S. slang, euphemistic for bullshit.
bushwhacker (n.) Look up bushwhacker at Dictionary.com
also bush-whacker, 1809, American English, literally "one who beats the bushes" (to make his way through), perhaps modeled on Dutch bosch-wachter "forest keeper;" see bush (n.) + whack (v.). In American Civil War, "irregular who took to the woods" (1862), variously regarded as patriot guerillas or as freebooters. Hence bushwhack (v.), 1837; bushwhacking (1826).
bushy (adj.) Look up bushy at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "overgrown with bushes," from bush (n.) + -y (2). Of hair, etc., from 1610s. Related: Bushiness.
busily (adv.) Look up busily at Dictionary.com
c. 1200, bisiliche; see busy (adj.) + -ly (2).
business (n.) Look up business at Dictionary.com
Old English bisignes (Northumbrian) "care, anxiety, occupation," from bisig "careful, anxious, busy, occupied, diligent" (see busy (adj.)) + -ness. Middle English sense of "state of being much occupied or engaged" (mid-14c.) is obsolete, replaced by busyness.

Sense of "a person's work, occupation" is first recorded late 14c. (in late Old English bisig (adj.) appears as a noun with the sense "occupation, state of employment"). Meaning "what one is about at the moment" is from 1590s. Sense of "trade, commercial engagements" is first attested 1727. In 17c. it also could mean "sexual intercourse." Modern two-syllable pronunciation is 17c.

Business card first attested 1840; business letter from 1766. Business end "the practical or effective part" (of something) is American English, by 1874. Phrase business as usual attested from 1865. To mean business "be intent on serious action" is from 1856. To mind (one's) own business is from 1620s. Johnson's dictionary also has busiless "At leisure; without business; unemployed."
businessman (n.) Look up businessman at Dictionary.com
1826, from business + man (n.). Man of business is recorded from 1660s.
busk (v.) Look up busk at Dictionary.com
"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.
busk (n.) Look up busk (n.) at Dictionary.com
"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.)).
busker (n.) Look up busker at Dictionary.com
"itinerant entertainer," 1857, from busk (v.) "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 shiftless and peripatetic lives. Busker has been mistakenly derived from buskin in the stage sense.
buskin (n.) Look up buskin at Dictionary.com
"half boot," c. 1500, origin unknown. The word exists in different forms in most of the continental languages, and the exact relationship of them all apparently has yet to be determined. The English word is perhaps immediately from Old French broissequin "buskin; a kind of cloth" (14c., Modern French brodequin by influence of broder "to embroider"), or from Middle Dutch brosekin "small leather boot," which is of uncertain origin. OED suggests a likely candidate in Spanish borcegui, earlier boszegui

Figurative senses in English relating to tragedy are from the word being used (since mid-16c.) to translate Greek kothurnus, the high, thick-soled boot worn in Athenian tragedy; contrasted with sock, the low shoe worn by comedians. Related: Buskined.
busking (n.) Look up busking at Dictionary.com
1851, slang, described variously as selling articles or obscene ballads in public houses, playing music on the streets, or performing as a sort of informal stand-up comedy act in pubs, perhaps from an earlier word meaning "to cruise as a pirate" (see busker).
buss (v.) Look up buss at Dictionary.com
1570s, from buss (n.). Related: Bussed; bussing.
Kissing and bussing differ both in this,
We busse our wantons, but our wives we kisse.

[Robert Herrick, "Hesperides," 1648]
buss (n.) Look up buss at Dictionary.com
"a kiss," 1560s; probably of imitative origin, as are Welsh and Gaelic bus "kiss, lip," French baiser "kiss" (12c., from Latin basiare), Spanish buz, German dialectal Buss.