Word Origin & History
1690s, "sculpture of upper torso and head," from Fr. buste (16c.), from It. busto "upper body," from L. bustum "funeral monument, tomb," originally "funeral pyre, place where corpses are burned," perhaps shortened from ambustum, neut. of ambustus "burned around," pp. of amburere "burn around, scorch,"
from ambi- "around" + urere "to burn." Or perhaps from O.Latin boro, the early form of classical L. 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 1819.
variant of burst
, 1764, Amer.Eng. The verb sense of "to burst" is first attested 1806; the slang meaning "demote" (especially in a military sense) is from 1918; that of "arrest" is from 1953 (earlier "to raid" from Prohibition). Originally "frolic, spree;" sense of "sudden
failure" is from 1842. 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.
1850, Amer.Eng. slang (originally Missouri/Arkansas) for something that takes one's breath away, from bust
(2); hence "a roistering blade."