Printable Version
Pronunciation: gêt-bêk-it Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: gutbucket1. Washtub bass in a shaggy jazz band made up of a pole attached to a washtub with a string stretched from the top of the pole to the tub (see illustration). 2. (US slang) A free-spirited, low-down, unsophisticated jazz style typical of barrelhouses. 3. (colloquial) A fat or greedy person, someone who eats or drinks too much.

Notes: Gutbucket was popularized by Louis Armstrong with his 1925 song and album "Gut Bucket Blues. The spelling with a hyphen, gut-bucket, is a bit old-fashioned.

In Play: Gutbucket bands often have odd instruments like a whiskey jug, a washboard, a gutbucket, and, perhaps, a few other odd gadgets. The word usually has some connection with simple, rather old jazz: "Rusty Horn plays anything from gutbucket jazz to avant-garde weirdness."

Word History: The third sense of today's Good Word apparently had nothing to do with its current meanings. Why a washtub was called a bucket is anyone's guess. Someone suggested that the first such bass consisted of a bucket used to carry the entrails of slaughtered animals. Gut originates in PIE gheu- "to pour, channel", source also of Dutch goot "gutter, drain", German Gosse "gutter, drain", English gush, and Icelandic geysir "geyser". Little is known about bucket. It seems to be a diminutive of Old English buc "pitcher; belly", which would make it a kinword of German Bauch "stomach, belly", both from PIE bhew-/bhow- "to swell, puff up", source also of English bubble, Swedish bobba "bug, pimple", Russian buynyi "lush, exuberant", and Albanian bujë "fuss".

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!