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early 14c., measure of capacity containing four pecks or eight gallons, from Old French boissel "bushel" (13c., Modern French boisseau), probably from boisse, a grain measure based on Gallo-Romance *bostia "handful," from Gaulish *bosta "palm of the hand" (cf. Irish bass, Breton boz "the hollow of the hand"). The exact measure varied from place to place and according to commodity, and since late 14c. it has been used loosely to mean "a large quantity or number."
unit of capacity in the British Imperial and the United States Customary systems of measurement. In the British system the units of liquid and dry capacity are the same, and since 1824 a bushel has been defined as 8 imperial gallons, or 2,219.36 cubic inches (36,375.31 cubic cm). In the United States the bushel is used only for dry measure. The U.S. level bushel (or struck bushel) is equal to 2,150.42 cubic inches (35,245.38 cubic cm) and is considered the equivalent of the Winchester bushel, a measure used in England from the 15th century until 1824. A U.S. level bushel is made up of 4 pecks, or 32 dry quarts. Two bushels make up a unit called a strike. In 1912 the U.S. Court of Customs defined a "heaped bushel" for measuring quantities of apples as 2,747.715 cubic inches (45,035.04 cubic cm). In the British Isles various cubic capacities and weights for the bushel have existed since the 13th century depending on the product to be sold or transported. It derived ultimately from the Old French boissel, from boisse, a measure of grain