\ 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 Duchess of Cambridge is busier than ever, what with her brood of three adorable children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, and a growing list of patronages. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton Reveals Prince Louis Always Wants to Be by Her Side," 8 Dec. 2019 Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies Too busy wrapping presents to slave away in the kitchen? Christina Oehler, Health.com, "7 Keto Cookie Recipes You Need This Holiday Season," 6 Dec. 2019 Billie has yet to comment on the saga, but something tells me she's too busy listening to some Van Halen. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Twitter Is Dragging Billie Eilish Right Now But Don’t Worry Because Her Fans are Defending Her," 3 Dec. 2019 The weather caused delays and flight cancelations at local airports during the busiest travel weekend of the year. Katherine Rosenberg-douglas, chicagotribune.com, "Hundreds of flights delayed, canceled as morning drizzle is expected to give way to afternoon snow, forecasters say," 1 Dec. 2019 Power remained in some stores during the hourlong outage in the busy shopping weekend, but AMC Theatres lost power entirely and told patrons to leave the movie theaters, according to a mall spokeswoman. Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Freezing rain, snow Sunday to make holiday weekend travel across Wisconsin dangerous," 30 Nov. 2019 Stores were busy, but not bursting with the pandemonium usually reserved for Black Friday. Claire Goodman, Houston Chronicle, "Black Thursday? Katy retailers report record Thanksgiving Day sales as Black Friday sales stagnate," 30 Nov. 2019 Black Friday kicked off a busy shopping weekend that also features Small Business Saturday, Museum Store Sunday and Cyber Monday. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville shoppers rise early for Black Friday, but Thanksgiving steals some crowds," 29 Nov. 2019 Bolstered by low unemployment, rising wages and strong consumer confidence, retailers are preparing for a busy shopping weekend from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN, "Retailers face a Thanksgiving Day decision: Open or closed?," 27 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 On the coast, a textured wall adds depth and charm without busying things up. Heidi Mitchell, House Beautiful, "This Lake Michigan House Was Built With Summertime In Mind," 16 Aug. 2018

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

13 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Busy.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/busy. Accessed 15 December 2019.

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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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delight or enjoyment

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