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[ruhs-uh l] /ˈrʌs əl/
verb (used without object), rustled, rustling.
to make a succession of slight, soft sounds, as of parts rubbing gently one on another, as leaves, silks, or papers.
to cause such sounds by moving or stirring something.
to move, proceed, or work energetically:
Rustle around and see what you can find.
verb (used with object), rustled, rustling.
to move or stir so as to cause a rustling sound:
The wind rustled the leaves.
to move, bring, or get by energetic action:
I'll go rustle some supper.
to steal (livestock, especially cattle).
the sound made by anything that rustles:
the rustle of leaves.
Verb phrases
rustle up, Informal. to find, gather, or assemble by effort or search:
to rustle up some wood for a fire.
Origin of rustle
1350-1400; Middle English rustlen (v.); compare Frisian russelje, Dutch ridselen; of imitative orig.
Related forms
rustlingly, adverb
unrustling, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for rustle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She was a nettle in which the rustle of the cassock was visible.

    Les Misrables Victor Hugo
  • The wind did not blow and so the dry branches of the forest did not rustle.

    The Eyes of the Woods Joseph A. Altsheler
  • He stood aside when she swept past him and vanished with a rustle of filmy draperies.

    Long Odds Harold Bindloss
  • But at that moment a rustle and a rush was heard of some one darting out of the tree.

    White Lies Charles Reade
  • At that moment there was a rustle among the rushes on the bank of the stream.

  • But a rustle of silk on the flags, the tip of a bonnet, a lined cloak—it was she!

    Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
  • Then he heard the rustle of leaves and the snap of a stick behind him.

    What Rough Beast? Jefferson Highe
  • There is not a sound, not a creak, not the rustle of a fold.

    Rita Laura E. Richards
  • There was some noise in the air beside the evening rustle of the south wind among the tree-tops.

    The World's Greatest Books, Volume V. Arthur Mee and J.A. Hammerton, Eds.
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 Forms
rustling, adjective, noun
rustlingly, adverb
Word Origin
Old English hrūxlian; related to Gothic hrukjan to crow², Old Norse hraukr raven, crow1


(mainly US & Canadian) to steal (cattle, horses, etc)
(US & Canadian, informal) to move swiftly and energetically
Word Origin
C19: probably special use of rustle1 (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
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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
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Slang definitions & phrases for rustle



  1. (also rustle one's bustle) To bestir oneself; GET OFF one's ASS (1882+)
  2. (also rustle up) To find and produce: where I knew I could rustle up the Lompoc phone book (1844+)

[origin unknown; perhaps fr rush plus hustle]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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