noun (1)
\ ˈbəst How to pronounce bust (audio) \

Definition of bust

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 art : a sculptured representation of the upper part of the human figure including the head and neck and usually part of the shoulders and breast has a bust of Abraham Lincoln in his office
2 : the upper part of the human torso between neck and waist especially : the breasts of a woman her bust size


busted also bust; busting

Definition of bust (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to break or smash especially with force bust a window also : to make inoperative busted my watch
b : to bring an end to : break up helped bust trustsNewsweek often used with up better not try to bust up his happy marriageForbes
c : to ruin financially the game of cheaters, which has busted more men than blackjack— Arthur Mayse
d : exhaust, wear out used in phrases like bust one's butt to describe making a strenuous effort
e : to tease or give a hard time to often used in phrases like bust one's chops I'm just busting your chops.
2 : tame bronco busting
3 : demote busted them to the bottom of the seniority listTime
4 slang
a : arrest busted for carrying guns— Saul Gottlieb
b : raid busted the apartment
5 : hit, slug felt like busting him in the face
6 informal : to execute or perform (a difficult, elaborate, or acrobatic movement, as when dancing) bust a dance move Hot Hot Heat's jittery, caffeinated rhythms and disco grooves are helping persuade punk kids to bust a move …— Christian Hoard

intransitive verb

1 : to go broke
2a : burst laughing fit to bust
b : break down Her camera busted.
3a card games : to lose at cards by exceeding a limit (such as the count of 21 in blackjack)
b poker : to fail to complete a straight (see straight entry 4 sense 3) or flush


noun (2)

Definition of bust (Entry 3 of 4)

1a : spree
b : a hearty drinking session a beer bust
2a : a complete failure : flop
b economics : a business depression (see depression sense 2) boom and bust
3 : punch, sock a good bust on the nose— J. T. Farrell
4 law enforcement, slang
a : a police raid (see raid entry 1 sense 2b)
b : arrest sense 1 made a couple of drug busts


variants: or busted \ ˈbə-​stəd How to pronounce bust (audio) \

Definition of bust (Entry 4 of 4)

economics : bankrupt, broke go bust

Synonyms & Antonyms for bust

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun (2)

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of bust in a Sentence

Verb He busted his watch when he fell. I think the camera is busted. Police busted 12 gang members on weapons charges. She got busted for drug possession. Two students got busted by the teacher for smoking in the bathroom.

First Known Use of bust

Noun (1)

1645, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1639, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 2

Noun (2)

1834, in the meaning defined at sense 1b


1836, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bust

Noun (1)

borrowed from French & Italian; French buste "part of the torso above the waist," going back to Middle French, borrowed from Italian busto "tree trunk" (15th-century Upper Italian), "part of the torso above the waist, corset, sculpture or painting representing the head and upper body," going back to Vulgar Latin *būstis "trunk," perhaps alteration of Latin fūstis "stick, rod, cudgel" by crossing with a Celtic word of like meaning

Note: Outcomes of *būstis in Italy with the meaning "trunk" are attested in Upper Italian and to a limited degree in the south (see Lessico etimologico italiano); outside of Italy compare Old Occitan bustz "torso," Romansh (Engadine) büst, (Surselvan [dialect of the upper Rhine]) best "tree trunk, torso, body, bodice," Romanian buşteán "tree trunk." The traditional etymology of Italian busto connects it with classical Latin bustum "funeral pyre, burial mound" but the improbable notion of a transfer in sense from "burial mound" to "representation of the upper body" is not supported by the Romance evidence, which shows a clear progression "tree trunk" > "trunk of the body."


variant of burst entry 1 with assimilatory loss of /r/ before /s/

Note: See note at hoss

Noun (2)

derivative of bust entry 2


from predicative use of bust entry 3

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Bustamante y Sirvén

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Cite this Entry

“Bust.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bust. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for bust


\ ˈbəst How to pronounce bust (audio) \

Kids Definition of bust

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a piece of sculpture representing the upper part of the human figure including the head and neck
2 : a woman's bosom


busted; busting

Kids Definition of bust (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to hit with the fist I'm sorry I busted your nose.— Carl Hiaasen, Hoot

More from Merriam-Webster on bust

Nglish: Translation of bust for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bust for Arabic Speakers


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