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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 rustling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Carl could hear a rustling in the women's end of the dressing-room tent.

    The Trail of the Hawk Sinclair Lewis
  • Almost immediately there was a rustling and whispering in the corridor.

    A Little Miss Nobody Amy Bell Marlowe
  • "Oh no," said the fairy, rustling her wings in some displeasure.

  • A light wind had risen, rustling the firs and spruces above his head.

    Labrador Days Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
  • He drew a long breath, for there was a heavy, rustling sound above, as if the man on the roof was altering his position.

    To Win or to Die George Manville Fenn
  • Hearing a rustling sound, they looked, and saw Bianca moving to the door.

    Fraternity John Galsworthy
  • Then Kate, with a laugh, said something which Philip did not catch, because Csar was rustling the newspaper he was reading.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
British Dictionary definitions for rustling


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 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.


1759, from rustle (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for rustling



  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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