: a pear with firm flesh and brown or dark yellow skin

Word History


short for Beurré Bosc, borrowed from French, from beurré, any of various soft-fleshed pear varieties (literally, "buttered," from past participle of beurrer "to spread with butter," verbal derivative of beurre "butter") + Bosc, from Louis Augustin Guillaume Bosc d'Antic †1828 French naturalist

Note: The name Le Beurré Bosc appears in a list of pears in the Dictionnaire de la culture et de l'aménagement des forets, by Jacques Joseph Baudrillart and Louis Augustin Guillaume Bosc (Paris, 1821), vol. 7 of the Encyclopédie méthodique—Agriculture; its cultivation is attributed to the Belgian chemist and horticulturist Jean-Baptiste van Mons (1765-1842). This is very likely the Bosc pear ("La Poire Bosc") described by van Mons in an article in Annales générales des sciences physiques (Brussels), vol. 2 (1819), pp. 65-67: "Cette belle poire rentre dans la variété dite Calebasse, et dans les Beurrées: l'excellence de ses qualités nous a déterminés à lui donner un nom célèbre à plusieurs titres dan les sciences, et nous ne pouvions choisir, pour la lui dédier, un savant plus respectable que M. Bosc, l'ami des trois rédacteurs des Annales générales" ("This handsome pear fits into the varieties called Calebasse ["gourd, calabash"] and Beurrées: the superiority of its qualities resolves us to give to it a name renowned in several scientific fields, and we could not choose, for a dedicatee, a scholar more esteemed than M. Bosc, the friend of the three editors of the Annales générales"). The tale does not end here, however. According to Eugène Forney (Le jardin fruitier, vol. 1, Paris, 1862, pp. 201-02), there were two pears named Beurré Bosc, a supposedly inferior calebasse pear introduced by van Mons, and another that originated in Apremont, Haute-Saône département and was sent to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris by a monsieur Madiot, director of the Rhône département nursery sometime before 1835. The latter variety was "dedicated to Bosc, the former director of that garden [the Jardin des Plantes], a distinguished pomologist, who, in 1793, at the end of his banishment, had saved from destruction the ancient fruit tree nursery of the Carthusians and assembled the vine collection of the Luxembourg [garden]" ("l'arbre fut dédié à Bosc, ancien directeur de ce jardin, pomologiste distingué qui, en 93, au sortir de la proscription, avait sauvé de la destruction l'ancienne école des arbres fruitiers des Chartreux et réuni la collection des vignes du Luxembourg"). Presumably the modern Bosc pear, which is not gourd-shaped, bears more resemblance to the later variety than to van Mons' pear.

First Known Use

1850, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Bosc was in 1850

Dictionary Entries Near Bosc

Cite this Entry

“Bosc.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Bosc. Accessed 4 Feb. 2023.

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