Sunday, June 26, 2011


Busk \buhsk\ , verb;
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

Busk dates to 1851 as "to offer goods for sale only in bars and taprooms" and perhaps derives from a figurative use of busk ("to cruise as a pirate") in the mid-1800's in reference to people living shifless and peripatetic lives. As a nautical term meaning "to tack, to beat windward," busk dates to the 1660's from French busquer ("to shift, filch, prowl"). Busquer is perhaps derived from bosco ("wood"), which was a hunting word carrying the notion of "beating wood" to flush out game.
Busking is also first attested in 1851 as a slang word that was used in three main ways: 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. This slang is probably also linked to the pirate-related definition of busk.

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