1 of 2


busier; busiest
: engaged in action : occupied
She's busy studying.
has enough work to keep him busy for a while
: being in use
found the telephone busy
: full of activity : bustling
a busy seaport
: foolishly or intrusively active : meddling
a busy, fussy sort of man much concerned with regulating everythingA. M. Young
: full of distracting detail
a busy design
busily adverb


2 of 2


busied; busying

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 froQuentin Crewe
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

Example Sentences

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Her little son Daniel (Hélios Karyo) is a quiet, unsmiling boy, who has been told that his father died in the war, and has learned to stay out of his busy, distant mother’s way. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 30 May 2023 Enter Email Sign Up The shooting upended busy holiday weekend festivities at the popular beach destination where there was already a heavy police presence to oversee the big crowds. Terry Spencer, BostonGlobe.com, 30 May 2023 Construction is about to begin on one of this summers’ largest capital road improvement projects in Evanston on one of the busiest roads in the north suburb, officials said. Brian L. Cox, Chicago Tribune, 30 May 2023 That was intended to help FCC remain well-supplied at the striker position during the busy, pre-Leagues Cup portion of the Major League Soccer season. The Enquirer, 29 May 2023 While those bands battled the heat, Van Halen was busy leading the backstage party. Sean Burch, SPIN, 29 May 2023 Even his wife, soon to become almost as well known as he, was busy that morning and skipped her husband’s moment. Jim Newton, Los Angeles Times, 29 May 2023 His father was a tennis coach and administrator at the club, and his mother was busy raising the boy and his younger siblings. Matthew Futterman, New York Times, 28 May 2023 The hotel is located right in the middle of the neighborhood's busiest spot, for one. Christin Parcerisa Vigueras, Travel + Leisure, 28 May 2023
Agricola attributed the difficulty of finding a date suitable for all parties to busy schedules for Cole and the attorneys in the case. Paul Gattis | Pgattis@al.com, al, 20 Apr. 2023 For those who need a quick refresher, in this story Martha welcomes Jesus into her home and begins busying herself by preparing for the meal. Colby Martin, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Mar. 2023 Yet as the Madam busied herself burnishing adolescent reputations, her own public image took a major hit. Abigail Tucker, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 Apr. 2023 To avoid an awkward text convo, another option is to distance yourself quietly by not reaching out as often, declining invites, or busying yourself with other friends and activities. Leah Campano, Seventeen, 31 Mar. 2023 Some experts predicted that the debate over the king’s role would fade away quickly, as the unionists busied themselves with a gimlet-eyed reading of the text of the Windsor Agreement. Mark Landler, New York Times, 28 Feb. 2023 Peter tries to busy himself with various tasks and ventures (like beaver hunting) to keep the looming, disappointed specter of his late father (played by Jason Isaacs) at bay. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 12 Apr. 2023 When Mars fell out of favor, scientists busied themselves understanding otherworldly places right under our noses — and the field of astrobiology took off without ever leaving our planet. Marissa Grunes, Discover Magazine, 6 Apr. 2023 While the battle carries on around Baú, the community busies itself with chores and pastimes. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, 3 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'busy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective and Verb

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

First Known Use


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


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near busy

Cite this Entry

“Busy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/busy. Accessed 5 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
busier; busiest
: involved in action : actively at work
too busy to eat
: being in use
the phone line is busy
: full of activity
a busy street
busily adverb
busyness noun


2 of 2 verb
busied; busying
: to make or keep busy

More from Merriam-Webster on busy

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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