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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BUSK, v. [bʌsk]

I. intr. To prepare, to make ready: to dress. Ppl.adj. buskin(g). Arch.Sc. 1794 Edom o' Gordon in Sc. Songs (ed. Ritson) II. 22:
Busk and boon, my merry men all, For ill dooms do I guess.
Sc. 1796 Scott William and Helen xxxvi.:
Strong love prevail'd: She busks, she bounes.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays and Leg. of the North (1908) 10:
The skeely wife lap fae her bed, An' buskit in a glint. Douce Davie took his seat afore, The skeely wife ahint.
Per. a.1816 J. Duff Lassie wi' the Yellow Coatie in R. Ford Vagab. Songs, etc. (1904) 198:
Lassie wi' the yellow coatie Will ye busk an' gang wi' me?
Bwk. 1935 H. Fraser in Border Mag. (Jan.) 10:
Coldingham, two parishes distant, has its “Buskin' Brae,” and in all likelihood the Kirk Bannie, leading down to Foulden Church, would be a busking place, and comely bare feet would resume shoes and stockings too good to soil on the muddy ways, while bonnets that had been carried anywhere but on the heads of their owners would be decorously donned for the entry into the sanctuary.

II. tr.

1. (1) To equip; prepare; make ready (Abd.19, Ags.1, Lnk.3 1937). Also with up.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 235:
Than I, nor Paris, nor Madrid, Nor Rome, I trow's mair able To busk you up a better Bed.
Sc. 1886 R. L. Stevenson Kidnapped v.:
They're busking the Covenant for sea.

(2) Specifically: to dress (hooks) for fly-fishing. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1828 Blackwood Mag. XXIII. 494:
His fingers refuse to tie a knot, much more to busk a fly.
Abd.(D) 1920 C. Murray In the Country Places 10:
An' nane like him can busk a heuck, — But still, man, still.
Gsw. 1863 J. Young Ingle Nook 69:
He, too, may be a lover of the rod, and quite an adept at "flea-buskin".
Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage, etc. 157:
Thou taught this hand to plet snoods . . . spin lines, whoop hooks, and busk flies.

Hence fly-busker, one who dresses hooks.Sc. 1819 Blackwood Mag. V. 232:
Why, by the way, was Mr Douglas omitted by our learned friend, in his enumeration of the famous fly-buskers of Auld Reekie?

2. To adorn, to deck, dress up; to decorate with ribbons, flags, etc. Cf. Buss, v.1, 2. (2). Very common in pa.p. or ppl.adj., buskit. Also used refl. and fig. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1733 Braes of Yarrow i. in Orpheus Caled. (2nd ed.) II. 34:
Busk ye, busk ye, my bonny, bonny Bride.
Sc. 1870 Neil Philip ed. The Penguin Book of Scottish Folktales (1995) 4:
... what does she see but an auld woman, amaist like a leddy, coming slowly up the gaet. She was buskit in green, a' but a white short apron, and a black velvet hood.
Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 8:
By this, the lave were buskit fair, Tho' Kate was rivin' at her hair.
Ags. 1866 C. Sievwright Sough o' the Shuttle 155:
An' cowslips are buskin the brae.
m.Sc. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls o' Hame 29:
Seldom will you see her playin' Peeverals, or buskin' dolls.
Fif. 1718 D. Beveridge Culross (1885) II. 89:
They will discharge busking the Cross and Tron hereafter.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 2:
An' do na see Man's dignity, whilk his ain God has Him buskit wi'.
Gsw. 1995 Herald (24 Nov.)  23:
And please remember: "A bonny bride is soon buskit and a short horse is soon whispit." Which, of course, needs no translation but we we will tell you anyway - it means a slight task is soon finished.
Lnk. 1893 T. Stewart Among the Miners 88:
When amang them I min' aye yon todlin' wee thing Wi the rare gowden ringlets that waunert at will An' busket wee babs by the Thinacre Mill.
Lnk. 1997 Duncan Glen From Upland Man 4:
But the shine shines for the Sunday walkers
in the country, busked in their braws
and passin the thatched
sm.Sc. 1988 W. A. D. and D. Riach A Galloway Glossary :
buskit dressed-up, adorned.
w.Dmf. 1910 J. L. Waugh Cracks wi' Robbie Doo viii.:
There are few parlours buskit like this in Thornhill, I tell ye; but mind ye, Robert, I'm no' boastin', or showin' off my gear.

3. Phrs.: (1) to busk the effigy, see Bulge; (2) to busk the plaid, to fasten the plaid in a particular manner; (3) to busk (up) one's cockernonie, to gather the hair up into a fillet or “snood” (Bnff.2 1937).(2) Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet II. xi.:
Can they not busk the plaid over their heads, as their mothers did?
(3) Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xx.:
Ye are a bonny lass too, an' ye wad busk up your cockernonie.

[O.Sc. busk, intr., tr., and refl., to make ready, array (oneself), 1375 (D.O.S.T.), n.Mid.Eng. busk, c.1300; O.N. bùask, from búa-sek, to prepare oneself.]

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"Busk v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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