\ ˈbərst How to pronounce burst (audio) \
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

Tbilisi, Georgia — As the crowd burst into the Georgian national anthem, thousands of smartphone flashlights lit up the parliament building’s facade. Alexander Sikorski, National Review, "Georgians Continue to Defy Putin, and the West Must Stand with Them," 28 June 2019 The final galette, with bursting berries and tart lemon up against that nutty flaky dough, tastes sophisticated and restaurant-y. Alex Beggs, Bon Appétit, "The Galette That Makes People Think I Work at Bon Appétit or Something," 28 June 2019 Just as its empire of coworking spaces was expanding, so too was its staff, from four people at the start to over 150 today—and its offices were bursting at the seams. Diana Budds, Curbed, "The Wing’s new HQ takes over a historic NYC building," 24 June 2019 Police said three masked robbers burst through the front door of an apartment in the 2900 block of Phoenix Drive about 3:30 a.m. The apartment's resident, 26-year-old David Allen Plotts, was shot during the robbery. Tom Steele, Dallas News, "2 men charged with murder after man shot in Fort Worth home-invasion robbery dies," 20 June 2019 The starting lights go out and 20 cars burst out of the starting grid, scrambling for position. Jacob Sweet, miamiherald, "His dream was to race cars. Now this Miami kid is building them for one of best F1 teams," 10 July 2018 Japan’s two early goals were both beautiful, little miracles bursting out of open play. Laurent Dubois, The Atlantic, "The Improbable Beauty of Lukaku’s Hop," 6 July 2018 In the video, two separate fireworks displays can be seen in the background, bursting behind a curtain of smoke. Julia Sclafani, sacbee, "Fireworks — legal and illegal — spark dozens of July 4 fire incidents in Sacramento," 5 July 2018 Killing two birds with one stone, Russell owned the crowd this night as everyone in attendance burst out laughing—and his moment will live on as the new go-to meme to handle Donald Trump supporters. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "NBA Legend Bill Russell Loves Charles Barkley As Much as We Do," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Six men were shot early Sunday in two bursts of gun violence about twenty minutes apart near the former Cabrini-Green rowhouses on the Near North Side. Alice Yin, chicagotribune.com, "‘We’re tired of the shooting’: 6 wounded in shootings near former Cabrini-Green housing complex," 30 June 2019 Ultimately, Warren and her aides arrived with two buses of supporters and a crush of reporters, bringing a sudden burst of chaos to the quiet streets around the facility. Jess Bidgood, BostonGlobe.com, "In a ‘blue wave of outrage,’ Warren, other Democratic candidates visit migrant detention facility ahead of debates," 26 June 2019 Cousins would ideally be used as an elite role player in short bursts, logging limited minutes in the most impactful opportunities. Michael Shapiro, SI.com, "How DeMarcus Cousins Helped Flip the NBA Finals," 5 June 2019 This testing showed that the system, which engages in 10-second bursts with a resting time of five seconds between engagements, could doom a plane if allowed to proceed unabated as few as three times in a row, a 40-second span. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Lion Air Pilots Had Less Than a Minute to Avert Fatal Crash," 27 Mar. 2019 Be sure to only use the pulse button, which will chop it in short bursts and keep your food processor's temp down. Audrey Bruno, SELF, "How to Grind Your Own Meat Without a Meat Grinder," 12 Mar. 2019 While my friends spoke to their families often — in quick bursts of 10- to 15-minute check-ins — my Sundays involved marathon discussions with my mother, which were always negative and emotionally draining. Good Housekeeping, "My Parents Haven't Spoken to Me in 13 Years," 21 Dec. 2018 Weekend storm will bring two quick bursts of rain to the Valley. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "Final burst of snow expected to smack Lake Tahoe area this weekend | The Sacramento Bee," 23 Mar. 2018 After a robust start of the year for the average fund investor, February brought a burst of volatility and hair-raising stock declines. William Power, WSJ, "U.S.-Stock Funds Gave Up Nearly All of 2018’s Gains in Jittery February," 4 Mar. 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

11 Jul 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 How to pronounce burst (audio) \
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

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characterized by aphorism

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