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bus·​tle ˈbə-səl How to pronounce bustle (audio)
bustled; bustling ˈbəs-liŋ How to pronounce bustle (audio)

intransitive verb

: to move briskly and often ostentatiously
bustled around the kitchen
: to be busily astir : teem
The house was bustling with activity.


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noun (1)

: noisy, energetic, and often obtrusive activity
the hustle and bustle of the big city


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noun (2)

clothing : a pad or framework expanding and supporting the fullness and drapery of the back of a woman's skirt or dress
the bustle of a 19th century wedding gown
also : the drapery so supported

Example Sentences

Verb She bustled around the kitchen getting ready for dinner guests. on Saturdays the city's downtown bustles with activity as a farmers' market sets up shop

Word History


Verb and Noun (1)

probably alteration of obsolete buskle to prepare, frequentative of busk, from Old Norse būask to prepare oneself

Noun (2)

origin unknown

First Known Use


1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (1)

1637, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1782, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bustle was in 1548

Dictionary Entries Near bustle

Cite this Entry

“Bustle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bustle. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
bus·​tle ˈbəs-əl How to pronounce bustle (audio)
bustled; bustling ˈbəs-(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce bustle (audio)
: to move about busily or noisily


2 of 2 noun
: noisy or energetic activity

More from Merriam-Webster on bustle

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