What Does Bush League Mean?

Bush League Meaning

Definition: At an inferior level.

People use this as a way to call something amateurish.

Origin of Bush League

This expression originated in America, and it comes from the sport of baseball. Bush league was originally slang for the baseball teams below minor league level.

These bush league teams were a source of talent for the minor league and major league teams, but they were not professional teams themselves.

Bush comes from slang for out in a rural area. This shows that most of these teams were out in the country.

Over time, use of this expression spread from baseball, and now it can describe anything seen as inferior. People often use it as a mild insult, sometimes even in a jocular manner.

Examples of Bush League

what is bush league In this example, a man uses the expression while talking to his friend about her new job.

Rodrigo: Alisha, is it true that you are transferring to a new department?

Alisha: Yes, I’m joining the marketing department. My boss thought I could bring some creative ideas to their team.

Rodrigo: Oh, well, I’m happy for you. However, you should know that the office politics are really aggressive in that department. People can be really mean there.

Alisha: I’m not worried. I’ve dealt with office politics before.

Rodrigo: The other departments’ office politics are bush league compared to that of the marketing department’s. I just don’t want you to be caught off guard.

bush league originIn the example below, two friends are discussing the food that one of them made.

Luis: Okay, I’ve been trying to improve this recipe all day long. I know you said you thought it wasn’t very good before, but I made a lot of changes. Try it, and tell me if you think it is good enough to sell professionally yet.

Stephanie: Okay, I’ll taste it. Hmmm… To be honest, it’s not bad. However, this recipe is still bush league compared to other restaurants selling the same dish. You still have to improve it before it will be competitive.

More Examples

This excerpt is about two competing baseball teams in the 1970s.

  • After getting the split, the Royals called the Sox “bush league” for taking curtain calls after home runs, which was considered over the top back in the day. –Chicago Tribune

This excerpt is about baseball as well. A player is unhappy with one of the umpire calls during the game.

  • “Just complete bush league, to be honest,” Gausman charged after the game. “To throw me out in that situation after what Sale did yesterday, throwing 98 behind a guy. On purpose. Everybody knew it, and you’re going to throw me out for hitting a guy on a curveball. (The score was) 0-0 in the second inning. I mean, it’s pretty bush league.” –New York Daily News


The term bush league is the opposite of big league and people use it to describe something with mediocre quality or amateur performance.