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[buhs-uh l] /ˈbʌs əl/
verb (used without object), bustled, bustling.
to move or act with a great show of energy (often followed by about):
He bustled about cooking breakfast.
to abound or teem with something; display an abundance of something; teem (often followed by with):
The office bustled with people and activity.
verb (used with object), bustled, bustling.
to cause to bustle; hustle.
thriving or energetic activity; stir; ferment.
Origin of bustle1
1615-25; Middle English bustelen to hurry aimlessly along, perhaps akin to Old Norse busla to splash about, bustle
Related forms
bustler, noun
bustlingly, adverb
unbustling, adjective
4. ado, flurry, agitation, fuss.


[buhs-uh l] /ˈbʌs əl/
fullness around or below the waist of a dress, as added by a peplum, bows, ruffles, etc.
a pad, cushion, or framework formerly worn under the back of a woman's skirt to expand, support, and display the full cut and drape of a dress.
First recorded in 1780-90; origin uncertain
Related forms
bustled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for bustle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Meanwhile there had been bustle and preparation in all parts of the great vessel.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • During this time there was a bustle of much interest in the paddock.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • What is there in it, says she, that all this bustle is about?

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • It's no trial to you, Mark, to make yourself comfortable and to bustle about.

  • I heard the bustle of the others—of the audience going away.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
British Dictionary definitions for bustle


when intr, often foll by about. to hurry or cause to hurry with a great show of energy or activity
energetic and noisy activity
Derived Forms
bustler, noun
bustling, adjective
Word Origin
C16: probably from obsolete buskle to make energetic preparation, from dialect busk from Old Norse būask to prepare


a cushion or a metal or whalebone framework worn by women in the late 19th century at the back below the waist in order to expand the skirt
Word Origin
C18: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bustle

"be active," 1570s (bustling "noisy or excited activity" is from early 15c.), frequentative of Middle English bresten "to rush, break," from Old English bersten (see burst (v.)), influenced by Old Norse buask "to make oneself ready" (see busk (v.)), or from busk (v.) via a frequentative form buskle. Related: Bustled; bustling; bustler.


"padding in a skirt," 1788, of uncertain origin, perhaps from German Buschel "bunch, pad," or it might be a special use of bustle (n.1) with reference to "rustling motion."

BUSTLE. A pad stuffed with cotton, feathers, bran, &c., worn by ladies for the double purpose of giving a greater rotundity or prominence to the hips, and setting off the smallness of the waist. [Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848]


"activity, stir, fuss, commotion," 1630s, from bustle (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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