Timber’s Term of the Week: Busheler



A pieceworker paid at a rate per thousand board feet.

Now a bushel is an outmoded unit of grain equal to four pecks or thirty-two dry quarts. It’s measured in a cylindrical vessel, eighteen and a half inches in diameter, and eight inches deep. According to one source the term bushel dates back to the early fourteenth century when King Edward I defined the bushel as eight gallons. The American colonies formally adopted the measure in 1696.

How bushel came into English is not certain. Charles Hodson, author of Global Wording, says at Podictionary that bushel came to England with William the Conqueror in the eleventh century. Since William came from Normandy he spoke French. According to one source I checked the old French word for bushel is boissel, which then would link it back to Latin. I’m not able to know for sure but I think that it means “box” since the Latin word for the box wood tree is buxus. The term buxom also comes from Latin word an article made from the box wood tree, buxum; “She’s built like a wooden box” just doesn’t do it for me.

English being the word scavenger that it is, has another meaning for bushel as a verb. Merriam-Webster’s on the web says the etymology of busheler is “probably from German bosseln to do odd jobs, poor work, to patch; akin to Old English beatan “to beat.” This goes well with another definition of busheler (or “Bushelman”) as a tailor’s assistant for repairing garments.

Bushelers at work:

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