Definition of buskin in US English:



  • 1A calf-high or knee-high boot of cloth or leather.

    • ‘Buskins of scarlet or purple were worn by the Roman generals who triumphed.’
    • ‘Headdresses were extravagantly plumed helmets or crowns fusing baroque and classical styles, and the masquers were shod in tightly fitting short boots, or buskins.’
    • ‘She wears a corslet and buskins of scale-mail, which latter her robe discloses.’
    • ‘Now she was vested for the anointing; buskins, sandals and girdle put on, and over all a tabard of white sarsnet, the vestment called the colobium sindonis.’
    • ‘Buskins are presumed by Strutt to have resembled "the shoes of the carpenter's wife in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales," which the poet says 'were laced high upon her legs'.’
    1. 1.1 A thick-soled laced boot worn by an ancient Athenian tragic actor to gain height.
      • ‘The buskin was used by actors when playing tragedy, its high raised sole making the player more conspicuous’
      • ‘The women's gowns were ol white silk or sott-wool, trimmed with Greek borders, with clasps, buskins, and all complete.’
      • ‘Superficially, the play follows The Tempest's plot-line and uses Philoctetes’ setting, but this isn't just Shakespeare in Greek buskins.’
      • ‘Consequently I may have used evidence for the Greek buskin which belonged to the Roman cotzhurnus.’
      gumboot, wellington, wader, walking boot, riding boot, field boot, jackboot, thigh boot, half-boot, ankle boot, pixie boot, chelsea boot, balmoral, desert boot, moon boot, snow boot
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    2. 1.2the buskin The style or spirit of tragic drama.
      • ‘The two books under review do get rid of the buskin and aureole.’
      • ‘In France, tragedy was elevated on her loftiest buskin.’
      • ‘Does the buskin fit O’Neill?’


Early 16th century (designating a calf-length boot): probably from Old French bouzequin, variant of brousequin, from Middle Dutch broseken, of unknown ultimate origin.