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[huhs-uh l] /ˈhʌs əl/
verb (used without object), hustled, hustling.
to proceed or work rapidly or energetically:
to hustle about putting a house in order.
to push or force one's way; jostle or shove.
to be aggressive, especially in business or other financial dealings.
Slang. to earn one's living by illicit or unethical means.
Slang. (of a prostitute) to solicit clients.
verb (used with object), hustled, hustling.
to convey or cause to move, especially to leave, roughly or hurriedly:
They hustled him out of the bar.
to pressure or coerce (a person) to buy or do something:
to hustle the customers into buying more drinks.
to urge, prod, or speed up:
Hustle your work along.
to obtain by aggressive or illicit means:
He could always hustle a buck or two from some sucker.
to beg; solicit.
to sell in or work (an area), especially by high-pressure tactics:
The souvenir venders began hustling the town at dawn.
to sell aggressively:
to hustle souvenirs.
to jostle, push, or shove roughly.
Slang. to induce (someone) to gamble or to promote (a gambling game) when the odds of winning are overwhelmingly in one's own favor.
Slang. to cheat; swindle:
They hustled him out of his savings.
  1. (of a prostitute) to solicit (someone).
  2. to attempt to persuade (someone) to have sexual relations.
  3. to promote or publicize in a lively, vigorous, or aggressive manner:
    an author hustling her new book on the TV talk shows.
energetic activity, as in work.
discourteous shoving, pushing, or jostling.
  1. an inducing by fraud, pressure, or deception, especially of inexperienced or uninformed persons, to buy something, to participate in an illicit scheme, dishonest gambling game, etc.
  2. such a product, scheme, gambling game, etc.
Informal. a competitive struggle:
the hustle to earn a living.
a fast, lively, popular ballroom dance evolving from Latin American, swing, rock, and disco dance styles, with a strong basic rhythm and simple step pattern augmented by strenuous turns, breaks, etc.
Origin of hustle
1675-85; < Dutch husselen, variant of hutselen to shake, equivalent to hutsen to shake + -el- -le
Related forms
outhustle, verb (used with object), outhustled, outhustling.
unhustled, adjective
unhustling, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hustle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You hustle this big bully into the ship, and keep him covered.

    Pirates of the Gorm Nat Schachner
  • But the officers refused to let him go back, and began to hustle him forward.

  • Anna, you hustle up some engraved notices to get around to all our friends.

    Rope Holworthy Hall
  • "We must hustle, if we want to get to Uncle Ike's before dark," Tom declared.

  • By the time I found it the train was ready to start and I had to hustle.

British Dictionary definitions for hustle


to shove or crowd (someone) roughly
to move or cause to move hurriedly or furtively: he hustled her out of sight
(transitive) to deal with or cause to proceed hurriedly: to hustle legislation through
(slang) to earn or obtain (something) forcefully
(US & Canadian, slang) (of procurers and prostitutes) to solicit
an instance of hustling
undue activity
a disco dance of the 1970s
Derived Forms
hustler, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Dutch husselen to shake, from Middle Dutch hutsen
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 hustle

1680s, "to shake to and fro" (especially of money in a cap, as part of a game called hustle-cap), metathesized from Dutch hutselen, husseln "to shake, to toss," frequentative of hutsen, variant of hotsen "to shake." "The stems hot-, hut- appear in a number of formations in both High and Low German dialects, all implying a shaking movement" [OED]. Related: Hustled; hustling. Meaning "push roughly, shove" first recorded 1751. That of "hurry, move quickly" is from 1812.

The key-note and countersign of life in these cities [of the U.S. West] is the word "hustle." We have caught it in the East. but we use it humorously, just as we once used the Southern word "skedaddle," but out West the word hustle is not only a serious term, it is the most serious in the language. [Julian Ralph, "Our Great West," N.Y., 1893]
Sense of "to get in a quick, illegal manner" is 1840 in American English; that of "to sell goods aggressively" is 1887.


"pushing activity; activity in the interest of success," 1891, American English, from hustle (v.); earlier it meant "a shaking together" (1715). Sense of "illegal business activity" is by 1963, American English. As a name of a popular dance, by 1975.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for hustle



  1. : Put a little hustle in it now
  2. : I guess one man's ''hustle'' is another man's ''promotion'' (1963+)
  3. A swindle: You know I can't pay out five bills for a wash if I wasn't planning a hustle


  1. To hurry: We better hustle, the thing leaves in five minutes (1844+)
  2. o behave, play, perform, etc, very energetically and aggressively: The reason they're losing is they don't hustle (1888+)
  3. To beg: You'll hustle for an overcoat (1891+)
  4. To work as a prostitute; hook: whores that hustle all night long (1930+)
  5. To cheat; swindle; victimize; con: It took a hell of a caddy to hustle a pro and a greenskeeper/ Larabee, he decided, was trying to hustle him (1887+)
  6. To steal: We must hustle us a car (1915+)

Related Terms

get a hustle on, get a move on, on the hustle

[criminal senses may be related to early 19th-century hustle, ''do the sex act, fuck'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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