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Word of the Week: ‘bury’


We take a closer look at the words and phrases that are trending online and in the media. This week: ‘bury’.

Football fans are mourning the expulsion of Bury FC from the English Football League, after a sale that would have saved the 134-year-old club from going into administration fell through just under two hours before the deadline. 

With Twitter awash with emotional tributes to the club and mounting pressure on the FA to step in, we decided to take a look at the origins of the word ‘bury’.

What does ‘bury’ mean?

The verb ‘bury’ has a number of definitions. In the Cambridge Dictionary these include: “to put a dead body in the ground” and to “intentionally forget an unpleasant experience” as well as “to put something in a place where it is difficult to find”.

The Urban Dictionary’s entries all relate to the place of Bury itself – a town in Greater Manchester – though present some contrasting ideas.

The first describes Bury as, “The best place in the whole world. Famous black pudding” while the second reads, “the most boring lifeless place to go in the whole of England”. 

TripAdvisor’s a safer bet, I guess.

Where does the word ‘bury’ come from?

The word ‘bury’ dates back to 1000 AD and the Old English ‘byrgan’ which means “to raise a mound or enclose in a grave or tomb”. ‘Bury’ was apparently akin to ‘beorgan’ which means “shelter”. 

According to etymology dictionaries, the word took on the definition of “to conceal from sight” by the 1700s, and later, ‘me hearties’, in a relation to “burying treasure” in the 1800s.

As wordsmiths we can’t help noting how the historic word ‘bury’ appears in quite a few of our everyday idioms. 

Whether it’s being told not to “bury your head in the sand” (i.e. refusing to confront a problem) or if it’s being asked to “bury the hatchet” (which derives from Native American culture and means to put an end to an argument) the Old English word still has relevance. 

Let’s hope the footballing community can come together to ensure the financial safety of Bury FC for many years to come.

Roisin McCormack