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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English buxum, buhsum, bucsum, also ibucsum, ibuhsum (bendsome, flexible, pliant, obedient), from Old English bōcsum, *būhsum, *ġebūhsum (bendsome, pliant, obedient), from Proto-West Germanic *beuhsam, *beugsam, equivalent to bow (to bend, bow at the waist) +‎ -some or buck (to bend, buckle, kick) +‎ -some.

Cognate with Scots bowsome (compliant), West Frisian bûgsum (flexible, bendy), Dutch buigzaam (flexible, pliant), German biegsam (flexible, pliant).[1][2]


  • IPA(key): /ˈbʌksəm/
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buxom (comparative buxomer or more buxom, superlative buxomest or most buxom)

  1. (of a woman) Having a full, voluptuous figure, especially possessing large breasts.
    Synonyms: bosomy, big-breasted, busty, chesty, plump, round, shapely, full-throated; see also Thesaurus:voluptuous
    • 1961 November 10, Joseph Heller, “The Eternal City”, in Catch-22 [], New York, N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, →OCLC, page 433:
      Aarfy's buxom trollop had vanished with her smutty cameo ring, and Nurse Duckett was ashamed of him because he had refused to fly more combat missions and would cause a scandal.
    • 2003 July 23, “Milestones”, in Time[1], archived from the original on 23 June 2008:
      DIED. Robert Brooks, 69, canny businessman who, as chairman of Hooters, turned the bar-restaurant chain, famed for buxom waitresses in orange hot pants, into an international success.
  2. (dated) Full of health, vigour, and good temper.
    Synonyms: gay, vigorous
    • a. 1645, John Milton, “L’Allegro”, in Poems of Mr. John Milton, [], London: [] Ruth Raworth for Humphrey Mosely, [], published 1646, →OCLC, page 31:
      There on Beds of Violets blew, / And freſh-blown Roſes waſht in dew, / Fill'd her with thee a daughter fair, / So buckſom, blith, and debonair.
    • 1932, John Buchan, chapter IV, in The Gap in the Curtain:
      Claypole, the buxom novelist,...[his] bubbling utterances....
    • 1896, Thomas Hardy, “Dame the Eighth: The Lady Penelope”, in A Group of Noble Dames:
      So heated and impassioned, indeed, would they become, that the lady hardly felt herself safe in their company at such times, notwithstanding that she was a brave and buxom damsel, not easily put out, and with a daring spirit of humour in her composition.
    • 1922, Sinclair Lewis, “26”, in Babbitt:
      He had not seen Zilla since Paul had shot her, and he still pictured her as buxom, high-colored, lively, and a little blowsy.
  3. (obsolete) Physically flexible or unresisting.
    Synonyms: pliant, pliable, flexible, malleable, plastic
    • 1615, Helkiah Crooke, Mikrokosmographia:
      Their substance is of a middle Nature betwixt bones and gristles moderately hard, the better to beare the violence of outward iniures, flexible or buxome that they should not breake but giue way to violence, pellucide or transparant and therefore they are either red or liuid according to their flesh vnder them.
  4. (obsolete, by extension) Morally pliant; obedient and easily yielding to pressure.
    Synonyms: compliant, tractable
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, VI.8::
      They downe him hold, and fast with cords do bynde, / Till they him force the buxome yoke to beare […].
    • 1869, Newell Connop Thirlwall, Letters:
      You will certainly be rewarded for this improvement in your conduct by a notable increase of tranquillity and cheerfulness in your view both of the past and of the future; and in the hope that you will be buxom and good, I conclude by New Year's lecture.

Derived terms[edit]


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  1. ^ 'buxum, adj.' (2018). In: Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. URL: http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/25479
  2. ^ Klein, Ernest. (1969 (1965)). A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language. Dealing with the origin of words and their sense development thus illustrating the history of civilization and culture. Vol. I A-K. II vols. Elsevier Publishing Company.