• synonyms


[ruhs-uh l]
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verb (used without object), rus·tled, rus·tling.
  1. to make a succession of slight, soft sounds, as of parts rubbing gently one on another, as leaves, silks, or papers.
  2. to cause such sounds by moving or stirring something.
  3. to move, proceed, or work energetically: Rustle around and see what you can find.
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verb (used with object), rus·tled, rus·tling.
  1. to move or stir so as to cause a rustling sound: The wind rustled the leaves.
  2. to move, bring, or get by energetic action: I'll go rustle some supper.
  3. to steal (livestock, especially cattle).
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  1. the sound made by anything that rustles: the rustle of leaves.
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Verb Phrases
  1. rustle up, Informal. to find, gather, or assemble by effort or search: to rustle up some wood for a fire.
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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. 2018

Related Words for rustling

whispering, stirring, swishing, susurration, susurrus, sough, murmurous, susurrant

Examples from the Web for rustling

Contemporary Examples of rustling

Historical Examples of rustling

  • As these occurred, a rustling and a murmur expressed the subdued applause.

  • There was a slight sound, scarcely a rustling, on the flagstones.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • He heard no sound save the rustling of the leaves and the song of the bird.

  • Don't you remember, I thought I heard a rustling in the fern, and you laughed at me?

    The Green Satin Gown

    Laura E. Richards

  • Once more may the rustling of the shower refresh our longing ears!


    William Godwin

British Dictionary definitions for rustling


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


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



"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.

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1759, from rustle (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper