[ buhst ]
/ bʌst /


a sculptured, painted, drawn, or engraved representation of the upper part of the human figure, especially a portrait sculpture showing only the head and shoulders of the subject.
the chest or breast, especially a woman's bosom.

Nearby words

  1. buss,
  2. busse-buschke disease,
  3. bussell,
  4. busses,
  5. bussing,
  6. bust a gut,
  7. bust one's ass,
  8. bust-up,
  9. bustamante,
  10. bustamante, anastasio

Origin of bust

1685–95; < French buste < Italian busto, probably < Latin būstum grave mound, tomb, literally, funeral pyre, ashes; presumably by association with the busts erected over graves

Origin of bust

1755–65; variant of burst, by loss of r before s, as in ass2, bass2, passel, etc.

Can be confusedburst burst (see usage note at the current entry)

Usage note

Historically bust is derived from a dialect pronunciation of burst and is related to it much as cuss is related to curse. Bust is both a noun and a verb and has a wide range of meanings for both uses. Many are slang or informal. A few, as “a decline in economic conditions, depression,” are standard.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bust

British Dictionary definitions for bust


/ (bʌst) /


the chest of a human being, esp a woman's bosom
a sculpture of the head, shoulders, and upper chest of a person

Word Origin for bust

C17: from French buste, from Italian busto a sculpture, of unknown origin

verb busts, busting, busted or bust



Word Origin for bust

C19: from a dialect pronunciation of burst

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

Word Origin and History for bust
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with bust


In addition to the idioms beginning with bust

  • bust a gut
  • bust one's ass

also see:

  • break (bust) one's ass
  • go broke (bust)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.