\ 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 Stepping out for a busy day in New York, the singer slipped on a Burberry mini skirt, sheer tights, and a plush sweater, leaving her blonde waves to fall effortlessly into a shoulder length bob. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Dua Lipa Took This Drugstore Hair Accessory for a Spin," 17 Jan. 2020 The pendant is still available, and was a subtle sign of love for the young mom, even while she and Prince Harry are very busy right now. Katherine J Igoe, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle Rewears the Zodiac Necklace With Archie's Sign as She Attends an Event," 16 Jan. 2020 New Year's Eve, of course, is the busiest delivery day of the year for Domino's and a huge night for pizza. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "Domino's ripped by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for $30 pizzas," 2 Jan. 2020 During busy days, whether at the office or during travel, make sure to have healthy meal options on hand to avoid cracking and binging on fast food. Jean Chen Smith, Cincinnati.com, "Guide to healthy New Year in 2020: These small changes are better than big resolutions," 31 Dec. 2019 The Saturday before Christmas was the busiest shopping day in U.S. history, surpassing Black Friday, according to research firm Customer Growth Partners. Arkansas Online, "Online sales make up a larger portion of overall sales again," 27 Dec. 2019 CBS News correspondent Mola Lenghi reports the busiest travel day this holiday season is expected to be Thursday, December 26th. CBS News, "Rain and fog delay last-minute holiday travelers," 24 Dec. 2019 The days leading up to Christmas are some of the busiest shopping days of the year. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "These Stores Are Closed on Christmas Day," 11 Dec. 2019 Sam Koch finally had a busy day against the Bills, averaging 44.7 yards on seven punts. Childs Walker, baltimoresun.com, "Ravens vs. Jets scouting report for Week 15: Who has the edge?," 11 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As the trial arguments stretched through the day, so did some of the senators, while others busied themselves by catching up on their reading lists. NBC News, "What they're reading and other ways senators are coping with Thursday," 23 Jan. 2020 In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Armstrong-Jones would busy himself with his photography projects, often separating from Margaret for long periods. Suyin Haynes, Time, "The True Story Behind Princess Margaret's Storyline on The Crown Season 3," 15 Nov. 2019 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

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

8 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Busy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/busying. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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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

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