Also found in: Thesaurus, Financial, Idioms.
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.
To make busy; occupy: busied myself preparing my tax return.
[Middle English bisi, busi, from Old English bysig.]
of ferrets; ferrets collectively–Bk. of St. Albans, 1486.
See Also: ACTIVENESS, WORK
- Busier than a cat covering shit on a marble slab —American colloquialism
- Busier than a Gulag gravedigger —Joseph Wambaugh
- 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.
- (I’ve been) busy as a bartender on Saturday night —Irwin Shaw
- 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.”
- Busy as a dog with fleas —Anon
- Busy as a fiddler’s elbow —Harry Prince
- 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.”
- Busy as an oven at Christmas —Michael Denham
- Busy as ants in a breadbox —Anon
- (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).
- Busy as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest all week long —Pat Conroy
- Busy as a pair of lizards on a warm brick —James Cain
- Busy as a ticking clock —Anon
- (Birds shrill and musical,) busy as bullets —John Farris
- Busy as catbirds —Hilary Masters
- Busy as jumper cables at a Mexican funeral —Thomas Zigal
- Busy as maggots —Marge Piercy
- Busy as the day is long —Vincent Stuckey Lean
- Busy as the devil in a gale of wind —Walter Scott
- Get busy like a bomb —Erich Maria Remarque
- Humming like a hive —John Gardner
- Hurried..like one who had always a multiplicity of tasks on hand —Charlotte Brontë
See Also: SPEED
- [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
- Like a squirrel in a cage, always in action —Aphra Behn
- Like the bee, we should make our industry our amusement —Oliver Goldsmith
|Noun||1.||busyness – 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”|
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