Bocage (pronounced 'boh kahj', IPA: /bo kɑːʒ/) is a French word which became current in military English in 1944. It means, in French, 'wooded country', 'countryside containing wood mixed with pasture', or 'farmland with hedges'. It is in this sense that it became notoriously used in English to label the deep lanes fringed by hedges on solid earth banks found in Normandy, where the word comes from. This countryside made ideal defensive territory for the German army to resist the advance of Allied tanks after the Normandy landings (D-Day) of 1944. Americans tend to call this type of country 'hedgerows'.
- In the study of Art, bocage is a label for one kind of decorative background consisting of leaves, flowers, etc. in porcelain. This has been in use since around 1900.
- Etymological note: The older form of the word was boscage ('boskage' in Middle English). This was pronounced 'BOSS-kidge' (IPA: /bɒs kɪdʒ/), and reflects the Old French boscage, which has become bocage in modern French. Both are derived from the Late Latin boscu-, 'a wood', 'a group of trees'. There is also an archaic adjective bosky, from a similar root: it means 'wooded', 'covered with shrubs','woody'. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was also used in slang to mean "Somewhat the worse for drink, tipsy" (OED).
- An additional meaning for the spelling boskage was that in medieval history of a kind of feudal right involving the collecting of firewood - although, according to OED, this "meaning [is] disputed"
- None of the words bocage, boscage or bosky have anything to do with proboscis.