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From Dutch husselen or by metathesis from Dutch hutselen (to shake up), a frequentative of hutsen (to stir, to move something (back and forth)).


  • IPA(key): /ˈhʌsəl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌsəl


hustle (third-person singular simple present hustles, present participle hustling, simple past and past participle hustled)

  1. To push someone roughly; to crowd; to jostle.[1]
    • 1915, G[eorge] A. Birmingham [pseudonym; James Owen Hannay], chapter I, in Gossamer, New York, N.Y.: George H. Doran Company, →OCLC:
      There is an hour or two, after the passengers have embarked, which is disquieting and fussy. [] Passengers wander restlessly about or hurry, with futile energy, from place to place. Pushing men hustle each other at the windows of the purser's office, under pretence of expecting letters or despatching telegrams.
  2. (intransitive) To rush or hurry.
    I'll have to hustle to get there on time.
    • 1922, Sinclair Lewis, chapter 12, in Babbitt:
      Men in dairy lunches were hustling to gulp down the food which cooks had hustled to fry
  3. (transitive) To bundle; to stow something quickly.
    • 1922, Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit:
      There was a person called Nana who ruled the nursery. Sometimes she took no notice of the playthings lying about, and sometimes, for no reason whatever, she went swooping about like a great wind and hustled them away in cupboards.
  4. (transitive) To con, swindle, or deceive, especially financially.
    The guy tried to hustle me into buying into a bogus real estate deal.
  5. To play deliberately badly at a game or sport in an attempt to encourage players to challenge.
  6. (informal) To obtain by illicit or forceful action.
  7. (informal) To sell sex; to work as a pimp.
  8. (informal) To be a prostitute; to exchange use of one's body for sexual purposes for money.
  9. To dance the hustle, a disco dance.
  10. (informal) To work.
  11. (informal) To put a lot of effort into one's work.



  • Dutch: hosselen



hustle (countable and uncountable, plural hustles)

  1. A state of busy activity.
  2. A propensity to work hard and get things done; ability to hustle.
    • 1934, Agatha Christie, chapter 3, in Murder on the Orient Express, London: HarperCollins, published 2017, page 26:
      'It's just natural for the folks here to be indolent,' she said. 'They just haven't got any hustle in them.'
  3. (preceded by definite article) A type of disco dance, commonly danced to the Van McCoy song The Hustle.
  4. A scam or swindle.
  5. (prison slang) An activity, such as prostitution or reselling stolen items, that a prisoner uses to earn money in prison.
  6. (slang) An act of prostitution.
    • 1972, Lou Reed (lyrics and music), “Walk on the Wild Side”:
      Little Joe never once gave it away / Everybody had to pay and pay / A hustle here and a hustle there / New York City's the place

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ John A. Simpson and Edmund S. C. Weiner, editors (1989), “hustle”, in The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, volume I (A–O), 2nd edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press, published 1991, →ISBN, page 799.