from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To play music or perform entertainment in a public place, usually while soliciting money.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A strip of metal, whalebone, wood, or other material, worn in the front of a corset to stiffen it.
  • n. A corset.
  • n. A kind of linen.
  • v. To prepare; to make ready; to array; to dress.
  • v. To solicit money by entertaining the public in the street or in public transport
  • v. To tack, to cruise about.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A thin, elastic strip of metal, whalebone, wood, or other material, worn in the front of a corset.
  • n. Among the Creek Indians, a feast of first fruits celebrated when the corn is ripe enough to be eaten. The feast usually continues four days. On the first day the new fire is lighted, by friction of wood, and distributed to the various households, an offering of green corn, including an ear brought from each of the four quarters or directions, is consumed, and medicine is brewed from snakeroot. On the second and third days the men physic with the medicine, the women bathe, the two sexes are taboo to one another, and all fast. On the fourth day there are feasting, dancing, and games.
  • v. To prepare; to make ready; to array; to dress.
  • v. To go; to direct one's course.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To get ready; prepare; equip; dress: as, to busk a fish-hook.
  • To use; employ.
  • To get ready and go; hasten; hurry.
  • To seek; hunt up and down; cast about; beat about.
  • Nautical, to beat to windward along a coast; cruise off and on.
  • To cruise as a pirate.
  • To earn a livelihood by going about singing, playing, and selling ballads, or as an acrobat, juggler, etc., in public houses, steamboats, on the street, etc.
  • n. An obsolete form of bush.
  • n. A stiffened body-garment, as a doublet, corset, or bodice.
  • n. A flexible strip of wood, steel, whalebone, or other stiffening material, placed in the front of stays to keep them in form.
  • n. An Indian feast of first fruits.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. play music in a public place and solicit money for it


Earlier, to be an itinerant performer, probably from busk, to go about seeking, cruise as a pirate, perhaps from obsolete French busquer, to prowl, from Italian buscare, to prowl, or Spanish buscar, to seek, from Old Spanish boscar.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French busc, by dissimilation from buste from Italian busto. (Wiktionary)
Etymology unknown (Wiktionary)
From Middle English busken, from Old Norse búask (Wiktionary)
Apparently from French busquer or Spanish buscar. (Wiktionary)


  • Jamieson (Scottish Dictionary) says: "The term busk is employed in a beautiful proverb which is very commonly used in Scotland, 'A bonny bride is soon busked. '"

    Jasmin: Barber, Poet, Philanthropist

  • Jamieson (Scottish Dictionary) says: "The term busk is employed in a beautiful proverb which is very commonly used in Scotland,

    Jasmin: Barber, Poet, Philanthropist

  • To busk is to play music on the street or subway, likely with an instrument case laid open so passersby can toss money in appreciation.

    Singing a Song for All

  • Indeed, her laudable anxiety to be tidy and compact in her own conscience as well as in the public eye, gave rise to one of her most startling evolutions, which was to grasp herself sometimes by a sort of wooden handle (part of her clothing, and familiarly called a busk), and wrestle as it were with her garments, until they fell into a symmetrical arrangement.

    Battle of Life

  • The schoolmistress in those days wore what was called a busk -- a flat piece of lancewood, hornbeam, or some other like tough and elastic wood, thrust into a sort of pocket or sheath in her dress, which came up almost to the chin and came down below the waist.

    Autobiography of Seventy Years, Vol. 1-2

  • This look was achieved by inserting a skinny piece of bone or wood, called a busk, in a corset extending from the chest to low on the abdomen and forcing the body into an "S" shape.

    Columbia Missourian: Latest Articles

  • Would it not be well if we were to celebrate such a "busk," or "feast of first fruits," as Bartram describes to have been the custom of the Mucclasse Indians?

    Walden, or Life in the woods

  • These "people of the one fire" celebrated the "busk," in an 8-day ceremonial rebirth of the mind and spirit, by repairing the temple and grounds, and the cleaning of houses.

    Travel plan idea blog

  • We would all have 36 hours to blag, beg and busk our way around the globe.

    Taking liberties: a jailbreak to San Diego

  • She used to busk with River as a three-year-old to raise money for their family.

    Rain Phoenix's unusual childhood


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  • Boscar - to beat about the bushes ( Old Spanish)

    May 3, 2013

  • feast of first fruits among Creek Indians.

    February 8, 2013

  • Busk >>> from O.N. buask "to make oneself ready"

    September 17, 2011

  • ..ladies' busks wrought out of the Right Whale-bone, and other like skrimshander articles, as the whalemen call the numerous little ingenious contrivances they elaborately carve out of the rough material...

    - Melville, Moby-Dick, ch. 57

    July 25, 2008