The Meaning of Busking: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of busking? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word busking, including its definition, usage, word origin, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word busking mean?

According to Cambridge Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, busking is the act of entertaining in a public place for donations. A busker is one who does this, and the infinitive form of the verb is to busk. The pronunciation of busk is bʌsk, and many different suffixes can be added to the end to create different forms of the verb. A busker might be a musician or person who does magic or ventriloquism who performs on subways or in front of theatre queues or other venues for gratuities, rewards or a form of money. This is a type of street theatre that is common in England, so you might see someone busking on the London underground. One is not likely to make a fortune busking, but they can earn enough to get by. You might also see these people in Chicago or on the New York City subway.  This street art can range from a musical performance to animal tricks or fire skills! The word busker is chiefly used in the United Kingdom. In American English, one might use the word street performer instead. Some cities and local councils require a street trading licence or busking permit to busk in a public area. If an itinerant performer decides to play music for voluntary donations without permission, they are liable for arrest by the police, according to Music Gateway

The term busk is also a noun that refers to a strip of whalebone or other sturdy material like wood or steel that is inserted into the front of a corset to stiffen it. This form of the word is archaic and considered an antiquity, but you might see it in historical novels. 

How can the word busking be used in a sentence?

The word busking can be used in many different sentences in the English language. This term is chiefly British, so if you decide to use it in the United States, somebody may not know what you were talking about. This word is fairly casual, and would probably not be used in formal or professional settings. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today. You never know, it might become one of your new favorite words to use. Below are a few examples of the word busking. 

Rachel: Where were you last night? I thought we were going to get dinner.

Tony: I’m so sorry, I meant to call you. I was busking over in East London and I got a massive crowd going. I made over 500 pounds last night! So tonight to make it up to you, we’re going to the best restaurant. 

Rachel: I’m so proud of you!

Here, Tony uses the word busking to state that he was street performing. In this next example, Tony talks to his father.

Tony: You just don’t understand. It’s how I’m going to get discovered for my music.

Dad: That may be true, but in the meantime, busking is no way to make a living. You need to get a job that is at least part-time. Your mother and Rachel can’t keep supporting this fantastical dream. I believe in you, but I also believe that you are talented enough to do both.

Tony: You want me to fail.

Here, Tony’s dad tells him he believes busking cannot earn a good living. Finally, Rachel’s little sister is putting on a performance in the living room.

Sister: Welcome to the show!

Rachel: Wow, thank you! And that are you going to be doing today?

Sister: I’m busking! I’m a one man band! Here’s my hat for donations. Feel free to put real money in there.

What is the origin of the word busking?

According to The Free Dictionary and Etymonline, the word busk could possibly come from the obsolete French busquer, meaning to prowl, the Italian buscare of the same meaning, or the Spanish buscar meaning to seek, from the Old Spanish buscar. This could also come from the Old Italian busco splinter, or stick. This is also possibly from Germanic origin, from the Old French busc or Old Norse būask or būa. This likely stemmed from the work busk, meaning to cruise or seek like a pirate.

What are synonyms for the word busking?

There are many different words that a person can Use in place of the word busking. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another given word or phrase. Learning synonyms is a great way to expand your English language vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself in written and spoken English. This list of synonyms for the word busking is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  offer
  •  give
  •  be on
  •  emote
  •  personate
  •  render
  •  represent
  •  produce
  •  perform
  •  discourse
  •  dramatize
  •  ham
  •  enact
  •  bring down the house
  •  go on
  •  appear as
  •  execute
  •  display
  •  impersonate
  •  stage
  •  do a turn
  •  ham it up
  •  do a number
  •  play
  •  act out
  •  exhibit
  •  tread the boards
  •  present
  •  playact
  •  show
  •  put on

Overall, the word busking is a verb that means to perform in the street for money or donations. Often, someone needs a permit for performances of this kind. Many people have busked in their day, from Ed Sheeran to Tracy Chapman. This term is predominantly British, but you might hear it in places like Canada and the US. Try busking today – you never know, you might just get discovered!


  1. Busking – definition of busking | The Free Dictionary 
  2. busk | Origin and meaning of busk | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  3. Busker | Definition of Busker | Merriam-Webster 
  4. BUSKING | Cambridge English Dictionary 
  5. What is Busking & How Can You Benefit from Doing It? | Music Gateway 
  6. PERFORM Synonyms: 113 Synonyms & Antonyms for PERFORM