You’re looking for the sky, but there’s something in the way. Who’s this bo? Is it some bolshy, stroppy youth, one of the Bos of Kentucky (KY) or a boy from Saskatchewan (SK)? Perhaps it’s Ivan Boesky, the famous insider trader of the 1980s, noted for telling Berkeley students that greed is good.
Ah, nope, it’s more bush-league than that. Boesky may have been rubbishy, but this is shrubbery. And not just a shrubbery, suitable for delivery to the Knights Who Say Ni!, but a whole condition of it. A bosky wood is a wood that’s plain old bushy.
Which is reasonable enough. After all, this word – and bosk (its related noun) and busky (a synonym) – are closely related to bush, which was originally busk. All of these, and similar words in other Germanic languages, are related to late Latin boscum, which is not that scum Bo again; it means “wood.”
But we’re not out of the woods yet. If you’ve bought Boesky’s belief that you can be greedy and still feel good about yourself – in hopes, perhaps, of getting a “boss” key to the office – you may, like Boesky, end up someplace boxy where the closest to this word you get is a Bosc pear to crunch on – which is named after Louis Augustin Guillaume Bosc, a French botanist. Ah, if only instead of greed you had listened to someone like St. John Bosco, a nineteenth-century priest and educator who focused on love and prevention (based on reason, religion, and kindness) rather than punishment.
But it’s not too late! You can yet escape your brush with the dark side and return to nature – to Shakespeare’s bosky acres, Milton’s bosky bourn, or Scott’s bosky thickets, where perhaps mountain men wear Melville’s bosky beards. And then, if the sky is still obscured, you may do what one does when lost in an Icelandic forest: stand up.
I love Terry Pratchett’s footnoted explanation for the word ‘bosky’ in his book ‘Lords & Ladies’: “i.e. containing a lot of bosk.”
Does this relate in any way to street musicians?
I had thought of including something mentioning buskers. The words aren’t related, though, as far as anyone can tell; busker appears to trace back to Spanish buscar, seek, but it’s a dodgy bit of a thread (and it’s not really right to spell it buscar in English).
Kind of makes one wonder what mode of transport buskers use.
Their feet, I reckon. (I do believe there are people who think it should be buscar because buskers supposedly perform for people in buses and cars.)