\ ˈbi-zē How to pronounce busy (audio) \
busier; busiest

Definition of busy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : engaged in action : occupied She's busy studying. has enough work to keep him busy for a while
b : being in use found the telephone busy
2 : full of activity : bustling a busy seaport
3 : foolishly or intrusively active : meddling a busy, fussy sort of man much concerned with regulating everything— A. M. Young
4 : full of distracting detail a busy design


busied; busying

Definition of busy (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make engaged in action : to make busy (see busy entry 1 sense 1a) : occupy busied herself about the room

intransitive verb

: bustle small boats busied to and fro— Quentin Crewe

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Other Words from busy


busily \ ˈbi-​zə-​lē How to pronounce busily (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for busy


busy, industrious, diligent, assiduous, sedulous mean actively engaged or occupied. busy chiefly stresses activity as opposed to idleness or leisure. too busy to spend time with the children industrious implies characteristic or habitual devotion to work. industrious employees diligent suggests earnest application to some specific object or pursuit. very diligent in her pursuit of a degree assiduous stresses careful and unremitting application. assiduous practice sedulous implies painstaking and persevering application. a sedulous investigation of the murder

Examples of busy in a Sentence

Adjective She's busy preparing for her test. Are you busy? Can I talk to you for a minute? I will be busy cleaning the house. I'm sorry I haven't called. I've been so busy. busy people who don't have time to cook I got enough work to keep me busy for a while. He is a very busy person. He's been busy in the kitchen all afternoon. My week has been so busy! Is there any time in your busy schedule for us to have lunch next week? Verb the video game busied the child for hours
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective There are plenty of activities to keep the whole family busy. Weldon B. Johnson, azcentral, "Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2020: Everything you need to know to attend the car auction," 2 Jan. 2020 The event is the latest happening in a busy season for the Stars. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "How the Winter Classic’s arrival in Dallas is the Stars’ latest step to becoming one of the NHL’s flagship franchises," 1 Jan. 2020 The busy season is still in full swing for CVG and last until about Jan. 2. Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati.com, "Long lines and piles of luggage at CVG this morning after bag system goes down; issues now fixed," 30 Dec. 2019 Amid the rush of what would become Amazon’s busiest holiday season ever, the class was vetoed. James Bandler, ProPublica, "Inside Documents Show How Amazon Chose Speed Over Safety in Building Its Delivery Network," 28 Dec. 2019 Here are 50 things to keep your kids busy when the weather is cold. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "50 things to do with your kids this winter around Milwaukee, from kites on ice to Disney on Ice," 27 Dec. 2019 Leatham is in the middle of one of his busiest seasons—the holidays. Olivia Martin, Town & Country, "How Jeff Leatham Creates Kris Jenner's Holiday Wonderlands," 25 Dec. 2019 Among them, a handful will keep you busy for a few days of exploring. Marianna Cerini, Condé Nast Traveler, "Ho Chi Minh City: Where to Eat, Drink, Stay, and Play," 24 Dec. 2019 Considering his movie career, Johnson has plenty other projects to keep him busy, and to prevent us from missing the recently concluded third and final season. oregonlive, "2019 TV cancellations: Shows we won’t miss, and others we hate to see go," 19 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Armstrong-Jones would busy himself with his photography projects, often separating from Margaret for long periods. Suyin Haynes, Time, "The True Story Behind Princess Margaret's Storyline on The Crown Season 3," 15 Nov. 2019 Until then, the bachelor monkey will likely busy himself with throwing mud and smashing coconuts — aggressive behavior that might’ve scared off previous potential mates. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, "Monkey with Human Face Still Looking for Love After Being Single for 19 Years," 19 Nov. 2019 Meanwhile local women busy themselves sorting bottles of wine, left over from a fishermen’s banquet the night before. The Economist, "China’s atheist Communist Party encourages folk religion," 19 Sep. 2019 Instead California’s legislature is busying itself with culture-war items. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Whither Kamala Harris? A Failed-State Senator’s Failing Campaign," 31 Oct. 2019 Three women greeted me, three generations: an old woman at a stove, her daughter busying herself sifting maize flour, the gawky granddaughter sprawled on a wooden chair — her long legs stretched out, her feet on the arm of another chair. Paul Theroux, New York Times, "Paul Theroux’s Mexican Journey," 23 Sep. 2019 Instead, Alphabet has both a functional CEO in Pichai and a figurehead CEO who busies himself with far-off technology and is otherwise increasingly a ghost inside and outside of the company. Washington Post, "Where Is Larry Page? Alphabet Deserves Better," 20 Sep. 2019 Sheldon Neuse, in for Matt Chapman at third, made an error on a potential double play that busied the bases for Santana’s home run. Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News, "Athletics outslug Rangers in Khris Davis multi-homer game," 13 Sep. 2019 On a recent afternoon, Cristina Flores busied herself in the kitchen making quesadillas and reheating rice for lunch. Brittny Mejia, latimes.com, "Deported airman’s mother inspires bill to protect ‘patriot parents’," 11 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'busy.' 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 busy


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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for busy

Adjective and Verb

Middle English bisy, from Old English bisig; akin to Middle Dutch & Middle Low German besich busy

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Time Traveler for busy

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for busy

Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Busy.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/busiest. Accessed 18 January 2020.

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More Definitions for busy

How to pronounce busy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of busy

: actively doing something
: full of activity or work
: full of people or things
\ ˈbi-zē How to pronounce busy (audio) \
busier; busiest

Kids Definition of busy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : actively at work
2 : being used I tried to call, but the line was busy.
3 : full of activity a busy day

Other Words from busy

busily \ ˈbi-​zə-​lē \ adverb


busied; busying

Kids Definition of busy (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make busy I busied myself with chores.

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More from Merriam-Webster on busy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for busy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with busy

Spanish Central: Translation of busy

Nglish: Translation of busy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of busy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on busy

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