I would swear that years back I saw a definition of the word bury and it contained a noun, not only a verb. If my memory serves me well, the noun meaning was associated with church. Today I cannot find even a trace of a noun bury — only verbs. Could anyone definitely confirm or deny such noun exists, please?

  • 1
    The suffix -burg in Old English signified a habitation like a town or village and would have been pronounced -bury, which is how Cantwaraburg became Canterbury. – Robusto Nov 6 '12 at 20:46
  • @Robusto In Swedish, a close relative of English, a similar thing happens. The cider called Kopparberg almost sounds like 'Kopparbarry' on a Swede's tongue. I live in a city called Edinburgh, which in Scotland we call 'Edinburra'. – Iain Samuel McLean Elder Nov 7 '12 at 2:10
  • @isme without looking up the history, I'd suspect that most English-Scandinavian language cognates are loan words retained from the several generations prior to the Norman Conquest that southern England was dominated by Norse speaking invaders and not due to shared word origins from proto-germanic languages in the much more distant past. – Dan Neely Nov 7 '12 at 13:54

For the noun bury, wiktionary shows “A borough; a manor”. The OED shows similar meanings: “A manor-house, or large farm ; a specialization of the OE burh, byrig ‘an enclosed or fortified place’ which still survives in many local names...”.”

  • I just leafed through several pages of Google Books results for a bury and the bury, but I never saw a single instance of this usage. I did find a preponderance of rabbit/ferret references though, so I've extended my answer... – FumbleFingers Nov 6 '12 at 22:07
  • Among other interesting answers, this one corresponds with what I've remembered. Thank you all for your insights! – Artur Nov 6 '12 at 23:04

It's probably a bit Too Localised, but bury can be used as a noun...

BURY: The amount of "bury" — that is, the depth between the mast step and the partners — must be determined. Too little bury makes for a disproportionately large amount of leverage force that has to be absorbed by step and partners. If you have any difficulty understanding these forces, take a pencil and using your fingers as partners and step, vary the "bury" and twist the pencil around to simulate the forces applied to a mast.

But the fact that the writer there enclosed two out of three usages in "quotes" is a strong indicator even he didn't think this was a standard term.

Somewhat more frequently, it's also used to mean rabbit burrow. I have the impression this particular usage often occurs in the context of using ferrets to drive rabbits above ground.

The 'bury' is still used to describe rabbit (coney) burrows


Dictionary.com lists one noun for bury:

Nautical. housing (def. 8a, b)

So it's listed as a synonym for a nautical term: housing.

Here's the definition for housing :

(8.) Nautical.

a. Also called bury. the portion of a mast below the deck.

b. Also called bury. the portion of a bowsprit aft of the forward part of the stem of a vessel.

c. the doubling of an upper mast.


I'm reading a book entitled At Home in France by Ann Barry, and there is a reference to a letter by the former owners of the house identifying some of the furniture and items left in the house after it sold to Ms. Barry. One item is an "Eton bury" and it is later defined as an oak cabinet with a top drawer. Perhaps because you can secretly hide things inside, hence "bury" them?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.