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.