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[biz-ee-wurk] /ˈbɪz iˌwɜrk/
work assigned for the sake of looking or keeping busy.
Origin of busywork
First recorded in 1840-50; busy + work Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for busy work
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There was feasting and jollity, as well as busy work, in the hunting camp.

    South from Hudson Bay E. C. [Ethel Claire] Brill
  • After crossing Waterloo Bridge, it was busy work for the eyes.

    Pencillings by the Way N. Parker Willis
  • And so our world of Midgard was filled with busy work and play.

    Asgard Stories

    Mary H. Foster and Mabel H. Cummings
  • However, the busy work of the day soon banished these idle regrets.

    Prince Fortunatus William Black
  • The busy work of spring was over, that of the fall, or beef round-up, not yet come.

    Lin McLean Owen Wister
  • "busy work" with such materials would be worth while indeed,—yet easy to obtain as they are, they are almost never seen in use.

    Froebel's Gifts Kate Douglas Wiggin
  • Then follows an hour of busy work, bringing wood to camp and packing browse.

    Woodcraft and Camping George Washington Sears (Nessmuk)
  • Even as she was speaking she had notched and loosed another shaft, speaking as folk do who turn from busy work at loom or bench.

Idioms and Phrases with busy work

busy work

Activity meant to take up time but not actually be productive. For example, We have to put in an eight-hour day, even if we do nothing but busy work. [ c. 1840 ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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