From Middle English bisy, busie, from Old English bysiġ, bisiġ (busy, occupied, diligent), from Proto-West Germanic *bisīg (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]


  • enPR: bĭz'i, IPA(key): /ˈbɪzi/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪzi
  • Hyphenation: bus‧y


busy (comparative busier, superlative busiest)

  1. Crowded with business or activities; having a great deal going on.
    For more quotations using this term, see Citations:busy.
    We crossed a busy street.
  2. Engaged in activity or by someone else.
    • 1967, Sleigh, Barbara, Jessamy, 1993 edition, Sevenoaks, Kent: Bloomsbury, →ISBN, page 18:
      In fact she was so busy doing all the things that anyone might, who finds themselves alone in an empty house, that she did not notice at first when it began to turn dusk and the rooms to grow dim.
    For more quotations using this term, see Citations:busy.
    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.
  5. For more quotations using this term, see Citations:busy.


Related termsEdit



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

  1. (transitive) To make somebody busy or active; to occupy.
    • On my vacation I'll busy myself with gardening.
  2. (transitive) To rush somebody. (Can we add an example for this sense?)

Derived termsEdit



busy (plural busies)

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


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


Middle EnglishEdit


busy (plural and weak singular bisiere, comparative bisiest)

  1. Alternative form of bisy