Bush is one of those words that gets weirder the more I look at it. If you look at a forest, there’s probably going to be some bushes there. But if you’re really tired, you’re also bushed. So if a bush is tired, it’s a bushed bush.
Words! There’s a reason I call these posts “Language of Confusion”.
Bush, the plant, comes from the Old English bysc and further back, the West Germanic busk, which had the same meaning. There are similar words in other languages (Old French had busch, which meant wood, while Medieval Latin had busca), but it seems that West Germanic was the one that started using the word first and it permeated through other European languages. It’s worth noting that the modern French word for wood is bois, which was passed along to French Canada as boisé, which is where the capital of Idaho comes from. As for why it also means tired, the only real guess is that it’s from the sense of being lost in the woods. I guess that would make anyone tired.
Is that all? No, you don’t get off that easily. There’s also the word ambush. It first showed up in the early fourteenth century from the Old French embuscher. As I mentioned, busch means wood, and the em- prefix means in, so it means “in woods”. Which is a good place for an ambush. Seriously, that’s why ambush is ambush.
Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English