Tuesday, January 25, 2011


“B” is for “Bush.”

As you know, the word “Bush” has a number of meanings. For one thing, it’s the last name of a recent American president, George W, of happy memory – or perhaps not so happy, depending on your politics. :-)

It’s also a sort of woody plant that has a thick clump of branches, among other definitions – and we may get some ribald ones in the comments column. :-)
I came upon the word used in an odd way in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”
The beautiful Rosalind, the star of the play, comes on stage at the end of the performance and gives a little “thank you” speech to the audience, during which she uses the phrase “A good wine needs no bush.”
I had to look that up. Turns out, Rosalind is making a comment about what we today call marketing.
Basically she’s saying, if you’ve got a product of good quality you don’t have to do a lot of promotion and advertising.

You see, in Shakespeare’s day wineshops would often have a branch of grapevine – Rosalind refers to it as a “bush” – hanging on the front door (the branch would usually be without the grapes), a way of letting the world know you can get wine there.
Her point is, if you sell great wine you won’t need the bush.

Of course, the really huge drink then was ale: everybody, including kids getting ready for school, drank ale – the water was dangerous. But wine was big for Elizabethans too. The famous Shakespearean comic character Falstaff practically lived on “sack,” a white wine.
“Sack,” in fack – er, in fact – was simply the French word “sec” (dry) translated into Elizabethan English.

Rosalind, of “As You Like It,” by the way, was one of Will Shakespeare’s most successful creations. She’s beautiful, intelligent, witty, charming – what more could you ask for?
Pass the wine please, I’m bushed. :-)


Nanka said...

A nice straight post with no beating around the bush ;)

??? said...

I didn't know that, interesting. I just look the word up and I noticed just how many phrases there are in German that feature a bus(c)h. Beat about the bush/auf den Busch klopfen for example.

Roger Owen Green said...

These days, tho, you need the bush. The promo is at least as important as the product, unfortunately.

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Leslie: said...

I'll be checking back off and on to see if anyone "does" make any ribald references to the word! lol I'm too much of a lady to do it...hope you can't read my mind!

Wanda said...

This was so very interesting, and your photos and narrative was a time of learning for me. Thanks for having such unusual "Bushes"

Tumblewords: said...

To B or not to B. Great choice.

ChrisJ said...

Marvelous information! I'm an English major and didn't know that about bush! Great post.

Berowne said...

Jedediah: >>I just look the word up and I noticed just how many phrases there are in German that feature a bus(c)h. Beat about the bush/auf den Busch klopfen for example.<<
"Achtung! You've got to stop klopfenning about the Busch!" Hey, it works! :-)

Berowne said...

"Great post." "Great choice." My thanks to Nanka, ROG, Leslie, Wanda, Tumblewords and ChrisJ for their friendly comments.

Cheryl said...

It's so fascinating to learn how the usage of terms has changed over time and is so different across countries.

Thanks for a fun post, Berowne.

ABC Team

Chubskulit Rose said...


B for Broken Plate, come and see.

Kay L. Davies said...

All I ever needed to know about (what was it?) and was afraid to ask.
-- K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Unknown said...

And those German "Busch"es came to St. Louis to brew a better ale, once upon a time.
A great romp among the bushes, Berowne!
HelenMac, ABC Team

Blog designed by Blogger Boutique using Christy Skagg's "A Little Bit of That" kit.