Friday, March 22, 2013


Meaning: Admiral W. H. Smyth, in that lexicographical classic, The Sailor's Word-book: An Alphabetical Digest of Nautical Terms*:
piratical cruising; also, used generally, for beating to windward along a coast, or cruising off and on.
Usefulness: 3 (Although I can find applications for this definition, they would far too often be confused with the more common sense, which involves tubas in subways and the like.)

Logofascination: 1 (Busk has a number of meanings which relate to dressing up and/or busyness, but it is from the nautical term that busking, fundraising by musicians, is derived.  The OED citations leave impressions of musicians wandering through pubs thronged with sailors, or wandering the seaside, courting fickle summer crowds. However correct these fancies are, my main fascination is with the lovely phrases in Smyth's definition, although since beating to windward is sailing against the wind, it's probably not as lovely as it sounds.)

In the wild: Not that I can see; the uses are all musical.

Degrees: 2

Connections: busking - bustler (bustle and busk have a complex relationship; some meanings have a common root, and even the ones from different roots influence one another)

Which is used in: G&P, Book the Second, XVIII: How a great scholar of England would have argued against Pantagruel, and was overcome by Panurge. This chapter was mentioned earlier this week regarding a ban on clapping; we discover here some of the locals hoped to see Pantagruel defeated in argument, saying:
For this Englishman is a terrible bustler and horrible coil-keeper. We will see who will be conqueror, for he never met with his match before. 

*It's actually rather lovely, although I am of course the type that is easily distracted by dictionaries, digest or otherwise. 

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