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[buhs-uh l] /ˈbʌs əl/
verb (used without object), bustled, bustling.
to move or act with a great show of energy (often followed by about):
He bustled about cooking breakfast.
to abound or teem with something; display an abundance of something; teem (often followed by with):
The office bustled with people and activity.
verb (used with object), bustled, bustling.
to cause to bustle; hustle.
thriving or energetic activity; stir; ferment.
1615-25; Middle English bustelen to hurry aimlessly along, perhaps akin to Old Norse busla to splash about, bustle
Related forms
bustler, noun
bustlingly, adverb
unbustling, adjective
4. ado, flurry, agitation, fuss. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for un bustling


when intr, often foll by about. to hurry or cause to hurry with a great show of energy or activity
energetic and noisy activity
Derived Forms
bustler, noun
bustling, adjective
Word Origin
C16: probably from obsolete buskle to make energetic preparation, from dialect busk from Old Norse būask to prepare


a cushion or a metal or whalebone framework worn by women in the late 19th century at the back below the waist in order to expand the skirt
Word Origin
C18: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for un bustling



"be active," 1570s (bustling "noisy or excited activity" is from early 15c.), frequentative of Middle English bresten "to rush, break," from Old English bersten (see burst (v.)), influenced by Old Norse buask "to make oneself ready" (see busk (v.)), or from busk (v.) via a frequentative form buskle. Related: Bustled; bustling; bustler.


"activity, stir, fuss, commotion," 1630s, from bustle (v.).

"padding in a skirt," 1788, of uncertain origin, perhaps from German Buschel "bunch, pad," or it might be a special use of bustle (n.1) with reference to "rustling motion."

BUSTLE. A pad stuffed with cotton, feathers, bran, &c., worn by ladies for the double purpose of giving a greater rotundity or prominence to the hips, and setting off the smallness of the waist. [Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for un bustling


item of feminine apparel for pushing out the skirt in back just below the waist; although used at various times since the 14th century, it was first known under this name in the 19th century. The specific fashion for the bustle, or tournure, came between 1865 and 1876 and again in the 1880s. It followed the decline of the crinoline (q.v.) and began as a bunching up of material behind the waist but became a wire cage attached to the petticoat, sticking out backward like a shelf, over which the dress material was draped.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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