\ 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 The large and popular lake, which is surrounded by vacation homes, was busy with boaters on the Fourth of July weekend. Washington Post, "Sheriff: At least 8 killed in plane collision at Idaho lake," 7 July 2020 The large and popular lake, which is surrounded by vacation homes, was busy with boaters on the Fourth of July weekend. Fox News, "Idaho mid-air plane crash kills at least 8 people including 3 kids, investigators confirm," 7 July 2020 The lake was busy with boaters on the Fourth of July weekend and numerous personal boats went to the scene immediately in search of survivors. CBS News, "At least 8 killed, including 3 children, as planes collide over Idaho lake," 6 July 2020 Troy has been busy with recent offers to Hueytown's DeAndre Coleman along with Spain Park's Jaylen Ward and Bennett Meredith, and Jasper's EJ Colbert. Dennis Victory, al, "Recruiting roundup: Thompson players continue to gather plenty of offers, more," 16 June 2020 And, with more than 20 offers, the phone is still somewhat busy with TCU and Penn State bringing in offers even after his Ohio State commitment. Scott Springer, Cincinnati.com, "Transfer of Ohio State commit Jyaire Brown gives Lakota West football top junior talent," 16 June 2020 While Cleveland Vegan recently returned to full operation with normal hours, Ross said the popular restaurant remains busy with carryout service. John Benson, cleveland, "Lakewood Planning Commission approves applications for additional restaurant patio seating," 10 June 2020 The club’s player development staff, which usually is busy with the minor league season, was brought in more extensively to evaluate video of amateur players. Nick Piecoro, azcentral, "‘Information gaps’ create draft challenges for Arizona Diamondbacks," 9 June 2020 The trail heads are busy with hikers, no one too close—people appear to be hanging in their quarantine clusters—and the slow drip of commerce is returning. Dan Chiasson, The New York Review of Books, "Pandemic Journal," 15 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Residents busied themselves with home repairs and thoughts of the future. Darcie Moran, Detroit Free Press, "Tawas residents deal with sewage, lost possessions after Michigan flooding," 28 May 2020 Right now, that might mean busying ourselves with puzzles, at-home workouts, Zoom parties, or Animal Crossing. Rachel Krause, refinery29.com, "22 Beauty Products We Reach For When We Just Need A Minute," 1 Apr. 2020 Homebound residents in the Washington region are busying themselves with spring cleaning and yardwork during the shutdown, stressing some suburban trash collection systems. Jahi Chikwendiu, Washington Post, "Coronavirus spring-cleaning surge leaves residential garbage cans overflowing," 9 Apr. 2020 Beyond his work as a composer, performer and facilitator of new technology, Mr. Teitelbaum busied himself as an educator and scholar. Steve Smith, New York Times, "Richard Teitelbaum, Electronic Composer and Improviser, Dies at 80," 20 Apr. 2020 As the trial arguments stretched through the day, so did some of the senators, while others busied themselves by catching up on their reading lists. NBC News, "What they're reading and other ways senators are coping with Thursday," 23 Jan. 2020 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

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 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Busy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/busy. Accessed 11 Jul. 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

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