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occupied with meaningless activity; the quality of being busy: Sometimes I get tired of all this busyness.
Not to be confused with:
business – an occupation or trade; a concern: That’s none of your business.; commerce, company: My business is doing very well.
Abused, Confused, & Misused Words by Mary Embree Copyright © 2007, 2013 by Mary Embree


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.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


 of ferrets; ferrets collectively-Bk. of St. Albans, 1486.
Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.




  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
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
Pray let us have no more bussiness, busyness. Take me if I know how to spell it!
After all the busyness of summer, this is a good time to make sure you are getting enough sleep.
The hearing was postponed to Aug 20 because of the busyness of head of the investigation team Erkebek Ashirkhodjaev.
SIR, - The present financial predicament for local councils is in part due to everyone's busyness at home buying goods online with big multinational companies like Amazon, all organised from the armchair, and resulting in retail outlets, banks and others closing their doors with resulting loss of income to council coffers.
Some of the characters are reverse silhouettes (white figures on a dark background), adding to the sense of busyness and anonymity of urban life.
Tuck one of these behind your ear and tell the office that you mean busyness. Or would it be business?
Indeed, many wear this busyness' as a badge of honour.
'Our sense of community, bolstered by faith, has given us the inspiration to be here despite the busyness of our holiday schedules, to devote our time and resources in nine days of prayer and praise,' said Consul General Claro Cristobal.
NHS Forth Valley Spiritual Care Health and Social Care Chaplain, Philip Hacking, said: "As we approach the busyness of Christmas time, this short service will offer some space for people to be quiet and reflect on what for some has been a difficult year because of losing a loved one."
"Busyness was forcing me to neglect myself emotionally," says a friend of ours who recently had a heart attack.
Putting aside any assumptions of Mr Shield's life history it is easy, in our day-to-day busyness, to take for granted the many positive elements of past social policies.
The Health Care Network Reception, sponsored by Correct Rx Pharmacy Services, was the place to unwind and relax just before the busyness of the ensuing COC began.