Origin of rustle

1350–1400; Middle English rustlen (v.); compare Frisian russelje, Dutch ridselen; of imitative orig.
Related formsrus·tling·ly, adverbun·rus·tling, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rustle

Contemporary Examples of rustle

Historical Examples of rustle

  • A hinge creaked, but it was no louder than the rustle of silk against silk.

  • He had caught the rustle of silks, the indignant breathing of a woman.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • He could hear the rustle of her clothes as she leaned forward.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • It was the rustle of the trees about him, stirred by a gentle rising breeze.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • It was more like the rustle of dry leaves, but there were no dry leaves to rustle.

    Happy Ending

    Fredric Brown

British Dictionary definitions for rustle




to make or cause to make a low crisp whispering or rubbing sound, as of dry leaves or paper
to move with such a sound


such a sound or sounds
Derived Formsrustling, adjective, nounrustlingly, adverb

Word Origin for rustle

Old English hrūxlian; related to Gothic hrukjan to crow ², Old Norse hraukr raven, crow 1




mainly US and Canadian to steal (cattle, horses, etc)
US and Canadian informal to move swiftly and energetically

Word Origin for rustle

C19: probably special use of rustle 1 (in the sense: to move with quiet sound)
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 rustle

"to emit soft, rapid sounds," late 14c. (implied in rustling), of uncertain origin, perhaps imitative (cf. Middle Low German ruschen, Middle Dutch ruusscen, German rauschen "to rustle"). Related: Rustled; rustling. Meaning "steal" (especially cattle) first attested 1882, probably from earlier American English slang sense of "move about vigorously" (1844), perhaps a separate word, compounded from rush and hustle.


1759, from rustle (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper