bush-league

danielxu85

Senior Member
Mandarin Chinese
I guess that bush-league is a baseball metaphor, which means minor leagues or a training team not for quite mature. I am wondering if I could utilize this in a non-sport context. Could you suggest some contexts or common collocations in which I could use it?

Could I use it this way?

John studies very hard, but he is in a bush-league academically speaking when it comes to the comparison with Adam.
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    "Bush leagues" could be used in similar contexts to refer to something that is humbler, less complicated, less difficult, smaller in scale or import, etc.

    "This sale is bush-league stuff." (Meaning that it's not an important sale.)

    I do think that the phrase "minor league"/"minor leagues"/"the minors" is more common in AE currently.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Bush-league is usually used only to be insulting. To call a person or their actions 'bush-league' is to state that the individual or what they have done was not at all worthy of respect.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    You are most welcome, Daniel. Here is an example of how the term is used:

    Cuchuflete speaks fairly good Spanish, but his Italian is strictly bush league.
    Translation: His Spanish is pretty good, but his Italian is barely intelligible.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Not that it matters a great deal, but I haven't a clue what this is about.
    It's possible that some of us in BE-land would be less ill-informed.
    Why bush-league?
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    "Bush" refers to the countryside, to a rural or even less civilized setting; "the bush," if my understanding is correct, is sometimes used to refer to wilder areas, away from cities. It reminds me of the phrase "the boonies" used to describe a desolate and less sophisticated region or area. ("Boonies" is a shortened variant of "boondocks.")
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Oh! Don't they play crickets or rounders over your way?
    Uncertain etymological memories, to be taken with a grain/pinch of salt-
    Bush league, from small towns with unimposing ballparks, both out in the boondocks or the bushes...not big city style.

    or...more likely...

    A reference to ball fields so badly tended that they had bushes growing in the outfield,
    the area farthest from the batter.

    When the Brooklyn (NY) Dodgers and New York Giants moved from civilization to California, many bitter East Coast
    fans declared that they were going from "the majors" or major leagues, to become bush league teams. Sour grapes and
    baseball jargon make strange bedfellows.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    If you ever had the pleasure of listening to Red Barber announce a game, you would smile at the thought of the catbird seat. You might be able to find some recordings at npr.org. Yes, we are chewin' the fat, talkin' ball, but it's not chin music.
     
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