AskDefine | Define buskin

Dictionary Definition

buskin n : a boot reaching halfway up to the knee [syn: chukka boot, combat boot, desert boot, half boot, top boot]

User Contributed Dictionary



Apparently from etyl fro bousequin, variant of brousequin ( > modern brodequin), probably from etyl dum broseken, of unknown origin.


  • /ˈbʌskɪn/


  1. A half-boot.
    • 1819, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe:
      Isaac, relieved of one half of his apprehensions, by learning that his daughter lived, and might possibly be ransomed, threw himself at the feet of the generous Outlaw, and, rubbing his beard against his buskins, sought to kiss the hem of his green cassock.
    • 1997, John Julius Norwich, A Short History of Byzantium, Penguin 1998, p. 248:
      Alexius was acclaimed with the imperial titles and formally shod with the purple buskins, embroidered in gold with the double-headed eagles of Byzantium
  2. A type of boot worn by the ancient Athenian tragic actors; tragic drama, tragedy.

Extensive Definition

This article is about the ancient boot. For the Roman Catholic liturgical stockings, see Episcopal sandals
A Buskin is a knee- or calf-length boot made of leather or cloth which laces closed, but is open across the toes. It was worn by Athenian tragic actors, hunters and soldiers in Ancient Greek, Etruscan and Roman societies. The word buskin, only recorded in English since 1503 meaning "half boot," is of unknown origin, perhaps from Old French brousequin (in modern French brodequin) or directly from its Middle Dutch model brosekin "small leather boot." Figurative senses relating to tragedy are from the word being used (since 1570) to translate Greek kothurnus, the high, thick-soled boot worn in Athenian tragedy; contrasted with sock, the low shoe worn by comedians.
Byzantine emperors were formally clad in purple buskins, embroidered in gold with double-headed eagles. It is also used as a name of a torturing device used in the Middle Ages: the boot.

Roman Catholic Church

In the Roman Catholic Church, buskins are ceremonial liturgical stockings (caligae in Latin) of silk, sometimes interwoven with gold threads and even heavily embroidered, formerly worn by the celebrant of a pontifical Mass. The buskins can be worn over the episcopal sandals, regular dress socks with regular dress shoes, or over the red papal shoes worn by the Pope.
Originally liturgical buskins were worn by all priests, until about the eighth century when they were reserved for the exclusive use of bishops as part of the pontificalia, i.e. episcopal 'regalia', a privilege in modern times extended to some lesser prelates. In liturgical colour they correspond to the chasuble, but are never worn with black.


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