\ ˈbərst \
burst also bursted; bursting

Definition of burst

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to break open, apart, or into pieces usually from impact or from pressure from within the balloon burst the pipes burst
2a : to give way from an excess of emotion my heart will burst
b : to give vent suddenly to a repressed emotion burst into tears burst out laughing
3a : to emerge or spring suddenly burst out of the house burst onto the scene burst into flames
b : launch, plunge burst into song
4 : to be filled to the breaking point bursting with excitement a crate bursting with fruit

transitive verb

1 : to cause to burst burst a balloon
2a : to force open (something, such as a door or a way) by strong or vigorous action
b : to flood over the river burst its banks
3 : to produce by or as if by bursting
burst at the seams
: to be larger, fuller, or more crowded than could reasonably have been anticipated



Definition of burst (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a sudden outbreak a burst of flames especially : a vehement outburst (as of emotion)
b : explosion, eruption a burst of violence
c : a sudden intense effort a burst of speed
d : the duration of fire in one engagement of the mechanism of an automatic firearm bursts of machine-gun fire
2 : an act of bursting the burst of a bubble a burst of confidence
3 : a result of bursting had the plumber fix the burst especially, firearms : a visible puff accompanying the explosion of a shell (see shell entry 1 sense 9b)

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Synonyms & Antonyms for burst

Synonyms: Verb

blow, blow up, crump, detonate, explode, go off, pop

Synonyms: Noun

flare, flare-up, flash, flicker, flurry, flutter, outbreak, outburst, spurt

Antonyms: Verb


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Examples of burst in a Sentence


Two of the water pipes burst. He burst a blood vessel. The doors suddenly burst open. The cops burst the door open. He burst into the room. The sun burst through the clouds. She burst through the door and yelled “Surprise!”.


She ran hard in short bursts toward the end of the race. the burst of a bubble
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In the run up to the crisis, easy credit created an artificial demand for housing that pushed prices up, creating a bubble that ultimately burst. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "Will the housing bubble cause another financial crisis?," 2 May 2018 The continuing tech boom turned into a bubble that burst 18 months later with catastrophic consequences for dot-com shareholders but little damage to the economy. James Mackintosh, WSJ, "What Happens When Bond Markets Get Weird," 3 Jan. 2019 The cool young things designing it all—like Alessandra Rich (a major fave of British socialites), Alexandre Vauthier, and Attico—are creating pieces that are bursting with color, embellishments, and prints. Hannah Miller And Tara Lamont-djite, Harper's BAZAAR, "Eveningwear Is Cool Again," 2 Nov. 2018 One late afternoon, at the peak of couples’ tension, Isabel accidentally drove the car into a sharp curb that burst the car’s tire. Carmen Rosy Hall, Vogue, "Driving 2,000 Miles for a Wheel of Cheese," 30 Aug. 2018 This causes him to develop an Obscurus, a parasitic dark force that bursts out of him, killing his abusive adopted mother and wreaking havoc on NYC. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "This Link Between “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” Will Seriously Blow Your Mind," 23 Aug. 2018 Sacramento home prices hit 12-year highs last month, according to new data, fueling a discussion of whether the region is experiencing a bubble that could burst. Tony Bizjak, sacbee, "Are Sacramento home prices reaching 'bubble' bursting levels?," 22 June 2018 Would Le Corbusier’s plan to turn Algiers into a linear city have reduced the pressure that burst from the Casbah and culminated in the Algerian Revolution or caused it to explode further and faster? Darran Anderson, The Atlantic, "The Cities That Never Existed," 17 June 2018 The president and his allies have long privately played out the strategy that burst into public view this weekend. Ashley Parker, Washington Post, "Giuliani calls it ‘unthinkable’ that Trump would pardon himself," 3 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In early 2000, the dot-com bubble burst and that was that. Justin Lahart, WSJ, "Warning to Investors: Powell Is No Greenspan," 15 Jan. 2019 Many benchmarks like Geekbench test short bursts of performance, and those showed performance more or less in line with expectations. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "We tested throttling on the MacBook Pro—now Apple says it has a firmware fix," 24 July 2018 TinTin A has barely moved, except for a small burst on October 17th. Loren Grush, The Verge, "SpaceX wants to fly some internet satellites closer to Earth to cut down on space trash," 9 Nov. 2018 Unlike steady-state cardio, HIIT alternates between short bursts of all-out exertion and rest. Philly.com, "A cardio circuit for people who hate running," 26 June 2018 Joy’s songs have a pleasant darkness that allows for dramatic bursts of sunlight piercing through the clouds. John Adamian, courant.com, "Vance Joy To Play Mohegan Sun," 2 June 2018 There’s even an overtake button for a quick burst of speed. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "IndyCar steering wheels are $40K marvels that might crash most of us," 1 June 2018 Durant headed for the rim and a raucous Toyota Center crowd held its breath – a pause immediately followed by a burst of relief from the fans. Brent Zwerneman, Houston Chronicle, "Rockets' Clint Capela breaks through in Game 5 against Warriors," 25 May 2018 In a burst of patriotic fervor, the locals dreamed up an ambitious forestry project of their own. Ken Jennings, Condé Nast Traveler, "This Italian Pine Forest Is Shaped Exactly Like...Italy," 1 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'burst.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of burst


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


circa 1616, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for burst

Verb and Noun

Middle English bersten, from Old English berstan; akin to Old High German brestan to burst

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Statistics for burst

Last Updated

7 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for burst

The first known use of burst was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for burst



English Language Learners Definition of burst

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to break open or into pieces in a sudden and violent way
: to cause (something) to break open or into pieces
: to open suddenly



English Language Learners Definition of burst (Entry 2 of 2)

: a short period of producing or doing something that begins suddenly
: an act of breaking open or into pieces : the result of something breaking open or into pieces


\ ˈbərst \
burst; bursting

Kids Definition of burst

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to break open or in pieces (as by an explosion from within) bombs bursting in air buds bursting open
2 : to suddenly show emotion He burst into tears.
3 : to come or go suddenly He burst into the room.
4 : to be filled to the maximum The puppy is bursting with energy.



Kids Definition of burst (Entry 2 of 2)

: a sudden release or effort a burst of laughter a burst of energy

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More from Merriam-Webster on burst

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with burst

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for burst

Spanish Central: Translation of burst

Nglish: Translation of burst for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of burst for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about burst

Comments on burst

What made you want to look up burst? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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