noun (1), often attributive
\ ˈbu̇sh How to pronounce bush (audio) \

Definition of bush

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1a : shrub especially : a low densely branched shrub
b : a close thicket of shrubs suggesting a single plant
2 : a large uncleared or sparsely settled area (as in Australia) usually scrub-covered or forested : wilderness usually used with the
3a archaic : a bunch of ivy formerly hung outside a tavern to indicate wine for sale
b obsolete : tavern
c : advertising good wine needs no bush— William Shakespeare
4 : a bushy tuft or mass a bush of hair especially : brush entry 2 sense 2a
5 : minor league usually used in plural spent ten years in the bushes


bushed; bushing; bushes

Definition of bush (Entry 2 of 5)

transitive verb

: to support, mark, or protect with bushes

intransitive verb

: to extend like a bush : resemble a bush

Definition of bush (Entry 3 of 5)

1 : having a low-growing compact bushy habit used especially of cultivated beans bush snap beans
2 : serving, occurring in, or used in the bush bush planes


noun (2)

Definition of bush (Entry 4 of 5)

chiefly British

Definition of bush (Entry 5 of 5)

: falling below acceptable standards : unprofessional bush behavior

First Known Use of bush

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Adjective (1)

1595, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1566, in the meaning defined above

Adjective (2)

1959, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bush

Noun (1)

Middle English bussh, bosch, buissh "woods, thicket, underbrush, shrub, underbrush concealing a hunter or fighter," going back to Old English *busc, going back to Germanic *buska- (perhaps also beside an earlier u-stem *busku-) (whence also Old Saxon -busc in brāmalbusk "bramble bush," Middle Dutch bosch, busch "forest, bunch, bundle," Old High German busc, bosc "shrub, bramble bush, thicket, grove," Old Swedish buske "bush," Old Norse [Norway] buskær, a nickname, probably "the bushy-haired one," Old Icelandic Buski, name for a dog, probably "the bristly one"), of uncertain origin; (sense 2) probably after Dutch bosch in this sense

Note: The Germanic pedigree of *buska- is relatively meager for the early periods. Old English *busc is perhaps evident in the place name Wardebusc, Veardebusc (modern Warboys in Huntingdonshire), attested in tenth-century charters, though Ekwall (Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names) took it as of Scandinavian origin. The Old High German forms are attested only in glosses from the twelfth century or later. An earlier opinion, propounded in Skeat and the Oxford English Dictionary, first edition, was that the Germanic words were borrowed from "Late Latin"; however, Latin boscus "wood, woodland"—the form buscus is less frequent—is not attested before the early eighth century. The genuine depth of Germanic attestation for *buska- and congeners was thoroughly explicated by Johannes Hubschmied in "Romanisch-germanische Wortprobleme I. Zur Geschichte von bois, bûche (mit Berücksichtigung der Ortsnamen)," Vox Romanica, Band 29 (1970), pp. 82-122, 283-302. There now seems little question that the etymon is Germanic, and that corresponding Romance words are borrowed from Germanic. Note that beside *busk- a form *bosk- is evident in Middle English and elsewhere, especially Romance. Hubschmied explains *busk- as an outcome in an original u-stem, with *bosk- resulting from lowering before a non-high vowel in the next syllable; alternatively, the -u- could simply result from failure of lowering. Also widespread in Middle English, especially east midland and northern, and in early Scots, are forms without palatalized sk, as bosk(e), buske (compare bosky), which have been attributed both to Old Norse and to Anglo-French bosc. See also boiserie, boscage, bosquet and bouquet, and compare ambush entry 1.


derivative of bush entry 1

Adjective (1)

from attributive use of bush entry 1

Noun (2)

Dutch bus bushing, box, from Middle Dutch busse box, from Late Latin buxis — more at box entry 1

Adjective (2)

short for bush-league

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Time Traveler for bush

Time Traveler

The first known use of bush was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near bush

bus girl



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Cite this Entry

“Bush.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bush. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for bush


\ ˈbu̇sh How to pronounce bush (audio) \

Kids Definition of bush

1 : a usually low shrub with many branches
2 : a stretch of uncleared or lightly settled country

Bush biographical name (1)

\ ˈbu̇sh How to pronounce Bush (audio) \

Definition of Bush

 (Entry 1 of 3)

George (Herbert Walker) 1924–2018 American politician; vice president of the U.S. (1981–89); 41st president of the U.S. (1989–93)


biographical name (2)

Definition of Bush (Entry 2 of 3)

George W(alker) 1946–     son of George H. W. Bush American politician; 43rd president of the U.S. (2001–09)


biographical name (3)

Definition of Bush (Entry 3 of 3)

Van*ne*var \ və-​ˈnē-​vər How to pronounce Bush (audio) \ 1890–1974 American electrical engineer

More from Merriam-Webster on bush

Nglish: Translation of bush for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bush for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about bush


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