"strip of wood, whalebone, etc., used in corset-making," 1590s, probably from French busc (16c.), which is of unknown origin, perhaps from or cognate with Italian bosco "splinter" and of Germanic origin (see bush (n.)).
c. 1300, "to prepare, to dress oneself," also "to go, set out," 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. For the "perform in public" sense, see busker.
updated on October 25, 2022
Dictionary entries near busk