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[burst] /bɜrst/
verb (used without object), burst or, often bursted, bursting.
to break, break open, or fly apart with sudden violence:
The bitter cold caused the pipes to burst.
to issue forth suddenly and forcibly, as from confinement or through an obstacle:
Oil burst to the surface. He burst through the doorway.
to give sudden expression to or as if to emotion:
to burst into applause; to burst into tears.
to be extremely full, as if ready to break open:
The house was bursting with people.
to appear suddenly; become visible, audible, evident, etc., all at once:
The sun burst through the clouds.
verb (used with object), burst or, often bursted, bursting.
to cause to break or break open suddenly and violently:
He burst the balloon.
to cause or suffer the rupture of:
to burst a blood vessel.
to separate (the parts of a multipart stationery form consisting of interleaved paper and carbon paper).
an act or instance of bursting.
a sudden, intense display, as of activity, energy, or effort:
The car passed us with a burst of speed.
a sudden expression or manifestation, as of emotion:
a burst of affection.
a sudden and violent issuing forth:
a burst of steam from the pipe.
  1. the explosion of a projectile, especially in a specified place:
    an air burst.
  2. a rapid sequence of shots fired by one pull on the trigger of an automatic weapon:
    A burst from the machine gun shattered all the windows.
the result of bursting; breach; gap:
a burst in the dike.
a sudden appearance or opening to view.
burst at the seams, to be filled to or beyond normal capacity:
This room will be bursting at the seams when all the guests arrive.
before 1000; Middle English bersten, bursten, Old English berstan (past. plural burston), cognate with Old High German brestan (German bersten), Old Norse bresta; akin to break
Related forms
nonbursting, adjective, noun
unburst, adjective
Can be confused
break, bust, burst (see synonym study at break; see usage note at bust)
1. crack, explode. 6. rend, tear. 10. spurt. 11, 12. outbreak.
Usage note
See bust2. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for bursting
  • Sewage and run-off go into the same system, which is full to bursting.
  • For example, it was chock full to bursting with technobabble.
  • But gradually that water freezes too, expanding as it turns to ice and eventually bursting the pipe inside the wall.
  • Hank slowly and tenderly grilled a slew of those venison sausages until they were shiny, taut, and on the verge of bursting.
  • And in any case, stellar wobbles give no clue as to whether a planet is barren and rocky or bursting with alien beasties.
  • Their parents are bursting with pride, and the colorful regalia of the faculty is a big part of the fun for them.
  • Many areas real estate has become pricy, but sense is the rental market has bubbled and may be bursting.
  • The falafel is moist and bursting with mint, the roasted eggplant purée chunky and lush.
  • The immediate thought was that these could be signs of flowing water, bursting out from an unseen aquifer.
  • It is bursting back to life earlier too now, due to an ongoing drought that has reduced snowfall in the area.
British Dictionary definitions for bursting


verb bursts, bursting, burst
to break or cause to break open or apart suddenly and noisily, esp from internal pressure; explode
(intransitive) to come, go, etc, suddenly and forcibly he burst into the room
(intransitive) to be full to the point of breaking open
(intransitive) to give vent (to) suddenly or loudly to burst into song
to cause or suffer the rupture of to burst a blood vessel
a sudden breaking open or apart; explosion
a break; breach; rupture
a sudden display or increase of effort or action; spurt a burst of speed
a sudden and violent emission, occurrence, or outbreak a burst of heavy rain, a burst of applause
a volley of fire from a weapon or weapons
broken apart; ruptured a burst pipe
Derived Forms
burster, noun
Word Origin
Old English berstan; related to Old Norse bresta, Old Frisian bersta, Old High German brestan; compare break
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 bursting
O.E. berstan "break suddenly" (class III strong verb; past tense bærst, pp. borsten), from a W.Gmc. metathesis of P.Gmc. *brestanan (cf. O.Fris. bersta, M.Du. berstan, Low Ger. barsten), from PIE base *bhres- "to burst, break, crack." The forms reverted to brest- in M.E. from influence of O.N. brestan/brast/brosten from the same Gmc. root, but it was re-metathesized late 16c. and emerged in the modern form, though brast was common as p.t. through 17c. and survives in dialect.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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