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adj. bus·i·er, bus·i·est
1. Engaged in activity, as work; occupied. See Synonyms at active.
2. Characterized by or sustaining much activity: a busy morning; a busy street.
3. Being a busybody; meddlesome; prying.
4. Being in use, as a telephone line.
5. Cluttered with detail to the point of being distracting: a busy design.
tr.v. bus·ied, bus·y·ing, bus·ies
To make busy; occupy: busied myself preparing my tax return.

[Middle English bisi, busi, from Old English bysig.]

bus′i·ly adv.
bus′y·ness n.


 of ferrets; ferrets collectively-Bk. of St. Albans, 1486.




  1. Busier than a cat covering shit on a marble slab —American colloquialism
  2. Busier than a Gulag gravedigger —Joseph Wambaugh
  3. Bustled about like so many ants roused by the approach of a foe —J. Hampden Porte

    Ants rank with bees as a means to describe busyness. In modern day usage and literature the above is usually shortened; for example, “Busy as an ant” used by Ogden Nash in his poem Children.

  4. (I’ve been) busy as a bartender on Saturday night —Irwin Shaw
  5. Busy as a bee —Geoffrey Chaucer

    Chaucer’s old English version of what has become a commonly used expression read “Bisy as bees ben they.”

  6. Busy as a dog with fleas —Anon
  7. Busy as a fiddler’s elbow —Harry Prince
  8. Busy as a hen with one chicken —John Ray’s Proverbs

    To strengthen the impact of the simile there’s, “Busy as a hen with ten chickens” and “As a hen with fifteen chickens” attributed to James Howell and “Busy as a hen with fifteen chickens in a barnyard.”

  9. Busy as an oven at Christmas —Michael Denham
  10. Busy as ants in a breadbox —Anon
  11. (I am) busy as a one-armed paperhanger with the itch —American colloquialism

    This is often attributed to Theodore Roosevelt who used it in a letter to his daughter. Some extensions on the one-armed paperhanger image include: “Busy as a one-armed paper-hanger with the hives” (one of many common expressions in Carl Sandburg’s The People, Yes), “Busy as a one-armed paperhanger with the seven-year itch” (H. W. Thompson, Body, Boots and Britches) and “Busy as a one-armed paper-hanger with the nettle rash” (O. Henry, The Ethics of a Pig).

  12. Busy as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest all week long —Pat Conroy
  13. Busy as a pair of lizards on a warm brick —James Cain
  14. Busy as a ticking clock —Anon
  15. (Birds shrill and musical,) busy as bullets —John Farris
  16. Busy as catbirds —Hilary Masters
  17. Busy as jumper cables at a Mexican funeral —Thomas Zigal
  18. Busy as maggots —Marge Piercy
  19. Busy as the day is long —Vincent Stuckey Lean
  20. Busy as the devil in a gale of wind —Walter Scott
  21. Get busy like a bomb —Erich Maria Remarque
  22. Humming like a hive —John Gardner
  23. Hurried..like one who had always a multiplicity of tasks on hand —Charlotte Brontë

    See Also: SPEED

  24. [Being Secretary of Defense] is like getting a shave and having your appendix out at the same time —Robert Lovett, Saturday Evening Post, May 28, 1960
  25. Like a squirrel in a cage, always in action —Aphra Behn
  26. Like the bee, we should make our industry our amusement —Oliver Goldsmith
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.Busyness - the state of being or appearing to be actively engaged in an activitybusyness - the state of being or appearing to be actively engaged in an activity; "they manifested all the busyness of a pack of beavers"; "there is a constant hum of military preparation"
activeness, activity, action - the state of being active; "his sphere of activity"; "he is out of action"
References in periodicals archive ?
Self-care is challenging amid the busyness of modern life.
Help this person understand that busyness doesn't equal productivity.
Rather, what the Lord wanted Martha to hear is that in the busyness of our service, listening to Him is the main event.
Find some time for yourself to get away from all of the busyness and people running around.
Many people today are realizing that the cultural focus on competition, success, acquisition and constant busyness is ultimately not satisfying.
The time of life after children have grown up and left their childhood home is referred to in Hindu philosophy as the "forest monk" stage -- when contemplation and a potentially more spiritual life can come forth after the busyness of career and child-rearing have calmed.
Animal terms that raised a smile because of their aptness include a shrewdness of apes, an obstinacy of buffalo, a bask of crocodiles, a murder of crows, a busyness of ferrets, a bloat of hippopotami, a cowardice of curs, a smack of jellyfish, a labour of moles, a pandemonium of parrots, an unkindness of ravens, a crash of rhinoceros, a knot of toads, a descent of woodpeckers and a zeal of zebras.
With the busyness of modern life there is perhaps nothing more critical to our spiritual lives than finding a way to cancel out the noise and meet others where they need us and, in turn, meet God and our spirituality where we need them as well.
Numerous font styles and too little space between lines contribute to visual busyness.
According to him busyness is a means of distracting oneself from truly important questions, such as who you are and what life is for.
People who tout their busyness (whether because of work or home life) at every opportunity are perceived by society as having greater status.