bust ass, Slang: Vulgar. to fight with the fists; strike or thrash another.
    bust on, Slang.
    1. to attack physically; beat up.
    2. to criticize or reprimand harshly.
    3. to make fun of or laugh at; mock.
    4. to inform on.
    bust one's ass, Slang: Vulgar. to make an extreme effort; exert oneself.

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

Examples from the Web for busted

Contemporary Examples of busted

Historical Examples of busted

  • But she busted in on him there and just piled into him and snowed him under.

    Tom Sawyer, Detective

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • Then he busted out, and had another of them forty-rod laughs of hisn.

    Tom Sawyer, Detective

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • Some one shore up and busted him a plenty with a soft-nose thirty.

    Louisiana Lou

    William West Winter

  • Busted more clotheslines than I've got fingers and toes, that pup has.

    The Woman-Haters

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • When I didn't hop him ag'in, the boys come over to see if I was busted.

British Dictionary definitions for busted



informal caught out doing something wrong and therefore in troubleyou are so busted




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

to burst or break
to make or become bankrupt
(tr) (of the police) to raid, search, or arrestthe girl was busted for drugs
(tr) US and Canadian to demote, esp in military rank
(tr) US and Canadian to break or tame (a horse, etc)
(tr) mainly US to punch; hit
bust a gut See gut (def. 9)


a raid, search, or arrest by the police
mainly US a punch; hit
US and Canadian a failure, esp a financial one; bankruptcy
a drunken party


go bust to become bankrupt

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 busted

"broken, ruined," 1837, past participle adjective from bust (v.).



1690s, "sculpture of upper torso and head," from French buste (16c.), from Italian busto "upper body," from Latin bustum "funeral monument, tomb," originally "funeral pyre, place where corpses are burned," perhaps shortened from ambustum, neuter of ambustus "burned around," past participle of amburere "burn around, scorch," from ambi- "around" + urere "to burn." Or perhaps from Old Latin boro, the early form of classical Latin uro "to burn." Sense development in Italian is probably from Etruscan custom of keeping dead person's ashes in an urn shaped like the person when alive. Meaning "bosom" is by 1884.



variant of burst (n.), 1764, American English. For loss of -r-, cf. ass (n.2). Originally "frolic, spree;" sense of "sudden failure" is from 1842. Meaning "police raid or arrest" is from 1938. Phrase ______ or bust as an emphatic expression attested by 1851 in British depictions of Western U.S. dialect. Probably from earlier expression bust (one's) boiler, by late 1840s, a reference to steamboat boilers exploding when driven too hard.



"to burst," 1806, variant of burst (v.); for loss of -r-, cf. ass (n.2). Meaning "go bankrupt" is from 1834. Meaning "break into" is from 1859. The slang meaning "demote" (especially in a military sense) is from 1918; that of "place under arrest" is from 1953 (earlier "to raid" from Prohibition). In card games, "to go over a score of 21," from 1939. Related: Busted; busting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with busted


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.