The word bucket has been around for a while in the English language, and like many other English words, traces back to Proto-Indo-European. Apparently bucket can be tentatively traced back to the word bhel, meaning "swell"; also the root of today's words bull and boulder. While the definitions of the latter two may make more sense to an outsider of etymology, it actually makes sense how "grow in size" became "large can with a big hole". As bhel became bheu, which became buh in Proto-Germanic, the definition changed to "belly", because of the tendency of bellies to grow (incidentally, the word belly did worm its way through the same root). As the Germanic languages became the English language, the word buc took place, not a huge change in spelling, but a tremendous change in definition: for this new word meant "large pitcher". It sort of makes sense because the belly is essentially a large pitcher for food and water, and pitchers can be bulbous in the same manner as stomachs can. This English word buc went into French as buquet, and then back into English (etymology is awesome!) as bucket, eventually meaning "a different kind of pitcher". The colloquialism kick the bucket actually used to be a euphemism for suicide, because when you wanted to hang yourself you would kick out the bucket you were standing on. Gruesome!
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd