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From Middle English busi, besy, bisi, from Old English bysiġ, *biesiġ, bisiġ ‎(busy, occupied, diligent), from Proto-Germanic *bisigaz ‎(diligent; zealous; busy). Cognate with Saterland Frisian biesich ‎(active, diligent, hard-working, industrious), Dutch bezig ‎(busy), Low German besig ‎(busy), Old Frisian bisgia ‎(to use), Old English bisgian ‎(to occupy, employ, trouble, afflict). The spelling with ⟨u⟩ represents the pronunciation of the West Midland and Southern dialects while the Modern English pronunciation with /ɪ/ is from the dialects of the East Midlands.[1]



busy ‎(comparative busier, superlative busiest)

  1. Crowded with business or activities; having a great deal going on.
    We crossed a busy street.
    • Shakespeare
      To-morrow is a busy day.
  2. Engaged in another activity or by someone else.
    The director cannot see you now: he's busy.
    Her telephone has been busy all day.
    He is busy with piano practice.
    They are busy getting ready for the annual meeting.
  3. Having a lot going on; complicated or intricate.
    Flowers, stripes, and checks in the same fabric make for a busy pattern.
  4. Officious; meddling.

Related terms[edit]



busy ‎(third-person singular simple present busies, present participle busying, simple past and past participle busied)

  1. (transitive) To make somebody busy, to keep busy with, to occupy, to make occupied.
    • On my vacation I'll busy myself with gardening.
  2. (transitive) To rush somebody.



busy ‎(plural busies)

  1. (slang, Britain, Liverpudlian, derogatory) A police officer.



  1. ^ Upward, Christopher & George Davidson. 2011. The History of English Spelling. Wiley-Blackwell.