\ 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 busy (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 Though Sloth has only made one appearance on the show so far, fans online are already busy trying to guess the contestant's identity. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Who Is Sloth on 'The Masked Dancer'? Fans Are So Sure They Know the Answer," 7 Jan. 2021 And there may not be enough health care workers to administer the shots, in part because many hospitals are so busy staffing ICUs and emergency departments to care for COVID patients. Catherine Ho, SFChronicle.com, "California’s vaccination efforts are off to a slow start. Here’s why," 5 Jan. 2021 While Jennifer is busy in the '60s with a husband and lover, in the present day, Ellie grows closer to the newspaper archivist helping her dig through the library, played by Nabhaan Rizwan (1917). Ruth Kinane, EW.com, "Felicity Jones and Shailene Woodley talk romantic Netflix drama The Last Letter From Your Lover," 5 Jan. 2021 Meanwhile, Democrats have been busy registering new voters and successfully getting them out to vote. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "Joe Biden’s Georgia Test," 4 Jan. 2021 Thousands of activists, and even celebrities like Kerry Washington and Demi Lovato, have been busy getting out the vote for these elections, which saw record early-voting numbers. Natalie Gontcharova, refinery29.com, "A Practical Guide To Making Change In 2021," 4 Jan. 2021 While the twins kept it low-key this year, Blue Ivy was busy putting in work, as usual. Zoe Haylock, Vulture, "No One Had a Better 2020 Than Blue Ivy, Rumi, and Sir Carter," 4 Jan. 2021 Under normal circumstances, Covington resident Billie Stanga would be busy right now hot gluing beads to a bustier to wear for the 20th year of parading by members of the Divine Protectors of Endangered Pleasures, also known as Divas. Sharon Edwards, NOLA.com, "Transforming houses into Carnival "floats" to keep the 2021 season alive," 4 Jan. 2021 During the Christmas holiday, two groups at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock were busy helping to feed families that otherwise would have trouble feeding themselves. Helaine Williams, Arkansas Online, "Sharing the bounty: Helping Hands project, Little Rock Wrestling help feed the needy," 3 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb To that end, Neil will busy himself with trying to win over his No. 1 critic, who happens to be passionate no-nonsense Deputy Mayor Arpi, played by Holly Hunter, and attempting to bond with his highly capable teenage daughter, Orly (Kyla Kenedy). Dan Snierson, EW.com, "See first photos of Ted Danson and Holly Hunter in NBC comedy Mr. Mayor," 20 Nov. 2020 The coronavirus pandemic is boosting e-commerce as homebound consumers order more products online and busy themselves with do-it-yourself projects during quarantine lockdowns. Jennifer Smith, WSJ, "Lowe’s Adding Fulfillment Centers, Large-Appliance Sites for Faster Delivery," 12 Aug. 2020 Guests can busy themselves with everything from ice fishing to cooking and baking classes. Sara Clemence, Travel + Leisure, "The Top 15 Resort Hotels in the Continental U.S.," 8 July 2020 This fall, lawmakers’ budget staff members will busy themselves with preparations for next year’s session, when the next two-year budget will be written. Robert T. Garrett, Dallas News, "Texas’ reopening from coronavirus eases hits to consumer spending, sales tax collections," 2 July 2020 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

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 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Busy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/busy. Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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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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