In (late) Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman England: a member of a body of men retained, apparently usually by the king, to guard the coast.
Buscarls are attested historically from 1052 to 1101. It is possible that the term originally referred to Anglo-Scandinavian naval troops. They appear to have formed a paid standing force based on the English coast, especially in Kent and Sussex, and are mentioned specifically in connection with the defence of the English Channel.
Old English; earliest use found in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Apparently from an unattested early Scandinavian compound literally meaning ‘shipman’; compare Old Icelandic búza, buza kind of ship and Old Icelandic karl.