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bush n1, v1

Usu |bᴜš|, also |buš|, |bɝš|
Pronc-spp boosh, bursh
Cf Pronc Intro 3.I.5.c, 3.I.23


As noun.

1 usu preceded by the: An area of wild or unsettled land, spec:

a A piece of land covered by forest or shrubbery.esp New England


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  • 1779 (1881) Lovell Orig. Jrl. 102 ME, The Gentlemen took to the Bush and escaped being made prisoners.
  • 1872 Schele de Vere Americanisms 89, The word bush . . has retained in America the original meaning of the Dutch bosch more faithfully than in England, where it generally designates a single shrub, while here . . it means rather a region abounding in trees and shrubs.
  • Ibid 178, Should he [the settler] dread the bush, he may choose one of those beautiful forest glades.
  • 1902 (1968) Clapin New Dict. Amer. 86, Bush. A land covered with rank shrubbery. The primeval or virgin forest land. A thicket of trees. Uncultivated land covered with trees and undergrowth.
  • 1905 DN 3.4 cCT, Bush. . . Woods.
  • 1929 AmSp 5.154 eNY, The word bush . . was formerly current (in the meaning of forest) . . a borrowing from the Dutch.
  • Ibid 157, The word bush was in use during the 18th century meaning woods, though not apparently in very common use. It remains more or less current down to the middle of the 19th century. . . The word is hardly used now except in sugar bush or maple bush.
  • 1931–33 LANE Worksheets cwVT, Natives call any patch of woods a bush.
  • 1959 VT Hist. new ser 27.128, Bush possession. . . Squatter’s rights. Obsolete.
  • 1966–67 DARE
    Qu. HH1, . . A rustic or countrified person
    Inf FL10, From the bush;
    Qu. BB46, . . About someone who has been very sick but now is getting better: “He’s _____.”
    Inf NY8, Out of the woods or bush.
  • 1969 Sorden Lumberjack Lingo NEng, Gt Lakes, Bush. The woods or the back country. . . More commonly in Canada than in the lake states.

b also attrib: A vast and remote region.North, esp Alaska

  • 1891 (1905) Ryan Told in Hills 191 WA, From their tones one would gather the impression that all the splendors of a metropolis were as nothing when compared with the luxuries of “shack” life in the “bush.”
  • 1953 Jessen’s Weekly 22 Jan (Tabbert Alaskan Engl.), The operators commented that . . the average commercial pilot flying the bush has many years of experience.
  • 1972 River Times (Fairbanks AK) Aug 4/3, We’re still a bush airline. . . and proud of it!
  • 1973 Tundra Times (Fairbanks AK) 11 Apr 1/1, State 8th Legislature’s Tight Fist Leaves Bush Fighting for Programs.
  • 1976 News-Miner (Fairbanks AK) 16 Feb (Tabbert Alaskan Engl.), Bush education, particularly, could be hurt if the community college system were separate from the statewide university system.
  • Ibid 23 Sept, Justice in the bush villages should be locally controlled rather than imported from the urban areas.
  • 1979 UpCountry July 38 NH, The shortest way there is by bush plane, weather permitting, from Sherbrooke, across the border in Quebec.

2 =Afro n.

chiefly among Black speakers

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  • 1965–70 DARE
    Qu. X5, . . Different kinds of men’s haircuts
    Infs AL61, KY59, MS80, OH16, PA239, TN50, TX36, VA39, Bush. [5 of 8 Infs Black]
  • 1972 Claerbaut Black Jargon 59, Bush. . . a large, kinky, bushy hairstyle.

As verb.

1 with out: To clear (a path) of brush; hence n busher.chiefly Northeast

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  • 1818 E. Argus (Portland ME) 21 Apr [2]/3, A path way has been something more than “bushed out” for a distance of twenty or thirty miles between the North line of the Bingham Purchase and the almost impassable Mountains of the Northern boundary.
  • 1822 Newburyport Herald (MA) 3 May [2]/4 NH, This labour . . has been wonderfully lightened by means of a footpath, which Crawford has bushed out, as it is termed, through the woods, by cutting away the undergrowth, felling trees, and removing prostrate trunks.
  • 1851 Springer Forest Life 91 ME, A road was bushed out to the spot where the poor creature lay.
  • 1860 Street Woods & Waters 107 NY, The swampers bush out the roads to the pines that’s felled.
  • 1911 in 2017 (acc) Lexis–Nexis Legal Research State Case Law: VA (Internet), He had cut some inroads or bushed out some paths which led into the timber at several places, and I went with him through those paths as best I could and as far as I could.
  • 1920 MA State Forest Comm. Annual Rept. 1919 4, The boundary lines . . which were bushed out a rod in width three years ago, have been mowed over.
  • 1939 LANE Map 122, The expressions swamped, ~ out, bushed out [6 infs, ME, nNH], brushed . . and slashed out . . , recorded in the context We swamped out a road through the woods. . . were inquired for systematically only in N.H. and Maine. . . [T]hese terms refer to the cutting of a road or path through the underbrush in the woods, usually in the winter, for the purpose of hauling logs or carrying supplies to a lumber camp or farm.
  • 1954 in 2017 (acc) Lexis–Nexis Legal Research State Case Law: NC (Internet), On July 7, 1953, I made a cruise of the timber on the Roberson Tract. . . [T]he boundaries were well defined, on two sides there were natural boundaries . . and the other boundaries had been bushed out.
  • 1969 DARE Tape
    • CT36, There’s your man in the woods that help load the log, he’s a busher . . he cuts the paths for the men of the log team.

2 freq with out: To mark (a safe path or an area) on a frozen body of water by setting bushes or evergreen saplings in holes in the ice, also fig; hence vbl n bushing; comb bushed road a path over the ice marked out in this way.Northeast

Cf DCan 1917, DPEIE 1838→

  • 1877 St. Albans Semi-Weekly Advt. (VT) 19 Jan 1/3, [Letter:] What the country needs . . is, that the road from the people to the Presidency shall be so thoroughly and plainly “bushed out” that it can be followed, at least by daylight, without the danger of being lost in a snow storm.
  • 1886 NY Herald (NY) 24 Jan 17/5, The third [=bushes] they stick into the holes where the most available ice is located. When these saplings are set the area marked by them is considered “bushed out” and is secured to the prospectors for the season.
  • 1893 Boston Sun. Globe (MA) 19 Feb 26/3 ME, We had heard before of the “bushed stage road” that is travelled every winter over the ice . . of Moosehead lake, and we realized at once that these Christmas trees set out with beautiful regularity in the ice were the beginning of the “bushes” that mark one of the strangest highways in New England.
  • 1900 Portsmouth Herald (NH) 12 Dec [6]/4 (, It is one of the best freezes the iceman [sic] have had in many years. Fields have been bushed out and men have been over them smoothing out the rough places.
  • 1902 Forest & Stream 58.24 ME, The tote team driver, on account of a “riffle” in the ice of Moxie Lake, found it necessary to make a detour of a mile or so out of the “bushed” road across the ice.
  • 1911 Country Gentleman 76.109 neNY, Samuel Croteau & Son have finished “bushing” across the ice between this city [=Plattsburg] and North Hero. Red cedars are set six rods apart, and can be seen in the severest storm for 40 rods. Mr. Croteau has bushed roads over this route for 30 years.
  • 1943 in 2017 (acc) Lexis–Nexis Legal Research State Case Law: VT (Internet), A week before the accident he had bushed out the road on the ice with the help of another man. This was done by setting bushes 3 or 4 feet high, consisting of a branch and twigs, upright in the ice. These were staggered to mark out a road two rods wide so that the bushes on either side were about 200 feet apart. . . [T]he car had gone through the ice at a point about 150 feet north of the bushed road and 250 feet from the Vermont shore.

3 To clear brush from land; hence vbl n bushing.

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  • c1936 in 1972 Amer. Slave 9.162 AR, I started plowing when I was about eight. Before then all I can remember doin’ was bushing.
  • 1966 DARE Tape
    • NC21, Last year I had a colored fellow over there bushin’ . . and he’s standing out there . . with a bush hook in his hand.

4 See quot.

  • 1954 PADS 21.22 SC, Bush: v.t. To bush a building is to fasten a green bush to the topmost part of the framework when the frame is completed.