Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To move or cause to move energetically and busily.
  • n. Excited and often noisy activity; a stir.
  • n. A frame or pad to support and expand the fullness of the back of a woman's skirt.
  • n. A bow, peplum, or gathering of material at the back of a woman's skirt below the waist.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An excited activity; a stir.
  • n. A cover to protect and hide the back panel of a computer or other office machine.
  • n. A frame worn underneath a woman's skirt.
  • v. To move busily and energetically with fussiness (often followed by about).
  • v. To teem or abound (usually followed by with); to exhibit an energetic and active abundance (of a thing). See also bustle with.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To move noisily; to be rudely active; to move in a way to cause agitation or disturbance.
  • n. Great stir; agitation; tumult from stirring or excitement.
  • n. A kind of pad or cushion worn on the back below the waist, by women, to give fullness to the skirts; -- called also bishop, and tournure.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To display activity with a certain amount of noise or agitation; be active and stirring; move quickly and energetically: sometimes used, reflexively.
  • n. Activity with noise and agitation; stir; hurry-scurry.
  • n. A pad, cushion, curved frame-work of wire, or the like, worn by women on the back part of the body below the waist for the purpose of improving the figure, causing the folds of the skirt to hang gracefully, and preventing the skirt from interfering with the feet in walking.

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

  • v. move or cause to move energetically or busily
  • n. a rapid active commotion
  • n. a framework worn at the back below the waist for giving fullness to a woman's skirt

Etymologies

Possibly variant of obsolete buskle, frequentative of busk, to prepare oneself, from Old Norse būask, reflexive of būa, to prepare; see bheuə- in Indo-European roots.
Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old Norse búask ("to prepare oneself"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • As the last melodies faded away, I heard a bustle from the doorway.

    365 tomorrows » 2008 » July : A New Free Flash Fiction SciFi Story Every Day

  • All hurry or bustle is peculiarly painful to the sick.

    Notes on Nursing: What It Is, and What It Is Not

  • It is true, the populace retained themselves; but there arose a perpetual hum and bustle from the throng round the palace, which added to the noise of fireworks, the frequent explosion of arms, the tramp to and fro of horsemen and carriages, to which effervescence he was the focus, retarded his recovery.

    II.1

  • There is an air of cold, solitary desolation about the noiseless streets which we are accustomed to see thronged at other times by a busy, eager crowd, and over the quiet, closely – shut buildings, which throughout the day are swarming with life and bustle, that is very impressive.

    Sketches by Boz

  • It was cut low over the bosom and the skirt was draped back over an enormous bustle and on the bustle was a huge bunch of pink velvet roses.

    Gone with the Wind

  • A later order was given to wear a camel-like "hump" at the base of the vertebral column, which was called the "bustle" -- a contrivance calculated to unnerve the wearer, not to speak of the looker-on; yet the American woman adopted it, distorted her body, and aped the gait of the kangaroo, the form being called the

    As A Chinaman Saw Us Passages from his Letters to a Friend at Home

  • Tied to her back by way of a bustle was a brace of duck, or a roasted fowl wrapped neatly in linen.

    A Woman's Part in a Revolution

  • The amateur clowns scream, too, and one of them, in a burst of inspiration, takes off his absurd hat to the bustle, which is now left yards behind.

    Pipefuls

  • I love to recall the bustle of that arriving and how, as the motor came up the drive, Mis 'Holcomb-that-was-Mame-Bliss and Mis' Amanda ran down on the gravel and waved their aprons; and how Mis 'Postmaster Sykes and

    Friendship Village

  • There is nothing save an electric trolley and the motor engines of the fishing-boats to recall the bustle of to-day.

    American Sketches 1908

Comments

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  • This bill might truly be called the epitome of an apothecary's conscience. Such being the case, we had a bustle about the payment. I pleaded for an abatement of one-half. He swore that he would not take a doit less than his just demand.

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 7 ch. 16

    October 2, 2008