from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Engaged in activity, as work; occupied.
  • adj. Sustaining much activity: a busy morning; a busy street.
  • adj. Meddlesome; prying.
  • adj. Being in use, as a telephone line.
  • adj. Cluttered with detail to the point of being distracting: a busy design.
  • transitive v. To make busy; occupy: busied myself preparing my tax return.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Doing a great deal; having a lot of things to do in the space of time given
  • adj. Engaged in another activity or by someone else.
  • adj. Having a lot going on; complicated or intricate.
  • v. To make somebody busy, to keep busy with, to occupy, to make occupied.
  • v. To rush somebody.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Engaged in some business; hard at work (either habitually or only for the time being); occupied with serious affairs; not idle nor at leisure.
  • adj. Constantly at work; diligent; active.
  • adj. Crowded with business or activities; -- said of places and times.
  • adj. Officious; meddling; foolish active.
  • adj. Careful; anxious.
  • transitive v. To make or keep busy; to employ; to engage or keep engaged; to occupy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Actively or attentively engaged; closely occupied physically or mentally; intent upon that which one is doing; not at leisure: opposed to idle.
  • Active in that which does not concern one; meddling with or prying into the affairs of others; officious; importunate.
  • In constant or energetic action; rapidly moving or moved; diligently used: as, busy hands or thoughts.
  • Pertaining or due to energetic action; manifesting constant or rapid movement.
  • Requiring constant attention, as a task.
  • Filled with, active duties or employment.
  • Careful; anxious. Chaucer.
  • To employ with constant attention; keep engaged; make or keep busy: as, to busy one's self with books.
  • In decoration, full of detail; overcrowded; fussy.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. intrusive in a meddling or offensive manner
  • adj. crowded with or characterized by much activity
  • adj. (of facilities such as telephones or lavatories) unavailable for use by anyone else or indicating unavailability; (`engaged' is a British term for a busy telephone line)
  • adj. overcrowded or cluttered with detail
  • v. keep busy with
  • adj. actively or fully engaged or occupied


Middle English bisi, busi, from Old English bysig.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English busi, besy, bisi, from Old English bysiġ, *biesiġ, bisiġ ("busy, occupied, diligent"). Cognate with Dutch bezig ("busy"), Low German besig ("busy"), Old Frisian bisgia ("to use"), Old English bisgian ("to occupy, employ, trouble, afflict"). (Wiktionary)


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  • Guapo was busy plucking his macaws, but at the word tapir he sprang to his feet, making the feathers fly in all directions.

    --Captain Mayne Reid, The Forest Exiles; or, The Perils of a Peruvian Family amid the Wilds of the Amazon, New Edition. p.145. New York. Thomas R. Knox & Co., 1854.

    September 25, 2014

  • "Busy, busy, busy is what we Bokononists whisper whenever we think of how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is." - Cat's Cradle

    December 3, 2006