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From Middle English bustlen, bustelen, bostlen, perhaps an alteration of *busklen (> Modern English buskle), a frequentative of Middle English busken (to prepare; make ready), from Old Norse búask (to prepare oneself)[1]; or alternatively from a frequentative form of Middle English busten, bisten (to buffet; pummel; dash; beat) +‎ -le. Compare also Icelandic bustla (to splash; bustle).



bustle (plural bustles)

  1. An excited activity; a stir.
    • 1748. David Hume. Enquiries concerning the human understanding and concerning the principles of moral. London: Oxford University Press, 1973. § 34.
      we are, perhaps, all the while flattering our natural indolence, which, hating the bustle of the world, and drudgery of business seeks a pretence of reason to give itself a full and uncontrolled indulgence
  2. (computing) A cover to protect and hide the back panel of a computer or other office machine.
  3. (historical) A frame worn underneath a woman's skirt, typically only protruding from the rear as opposed to the earlier more circular hoops.

Derived terms[edit]



bustle (third-person singular simple present bustles, present participle bustling, simple past and past participle bustled)

  1. To move busily and energetically with fussiness (often followed by about).
    The commuters bustled about inside the train station.
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd corrected and augmented edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970, partition II, section 3, member 6:
      I was once so mad to bussell abroad, and seek about for preferment […].
  2. To teem or abound (usually followed by with); to exhibit an energetic and active abundance (of a thing).
    The train station was bustling with commuters.




  1. ^ bustle in Merriam-Webster Dictionary