Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bust-up n.

1. (also burst-up) lit., an explosion; fig., a serious quarrel or argument, a fight; also attrib. [SE bust, to break].

[US]Knickerbocker (N.Y.) XXVIII. 313: He was soliloquizing upon the violence of the storm: ‘Well, this is the houdaciousest bust-up I ever seed’.
[UK]Kipling ‘The Moral Reformers’ in Complete Stalky & Co. (1987) 121: Then there’s a big bust-up and a row that gets into the papers, and a lot of chaps are expelled, you know.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Their Mate’s Honour’ in Roderick (1972) 755: There’s sure to be one or two of us to get hold of Joe [...] when the burst-up does come.
[Aus]F. Garrett diary 28 May 🌐 Great bust up last night, or rather this morning.
[UK]A. Christie Mysterious Affair at Styles (1954) 23: It was a real old bust-up.
[UK]J. MacLaren-Ross ‘Happy as the Day is Long’ in Memoirs of the Forties (1984) 310: We’d had a hell of a bust-up just before I took ill.
[US]E. Wilson 5 Oct. [synd. col.] [H]er big bustup with her husband .
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 124: I remember some of the bust-ups round our way.
[US]H.S. Thompson Hell’s Angels (1967) 105: The good bust-up stories were always common topics.
[UK]N. Cohn Awopbop. (1970) 159: At the time of his bust-up with the Stones, he went through some quite bad times.
[UK]M. Novotny Kings Road 212: I’ve had a terrible bust-up with Edward.
[Ire]J. Morrow Confessions of Proinsias O’Toole 142: I’ve not had a jar [...] since that last Saturday night bust-up in the Cavan man’s.
[UK](con. 1950s–60s) in G. Tremlett Little Legs 76: I ended up having a bust-up with Morton.
[UK]G. Burn Happy Like Murderers 241: It was using the cellar for hiding things in [...] that would lead to a major bust-up between them.
[UK]D. Mitchell Black Swan Green 364: Wilcox had a bust-up with his girlfriend.
[SA]Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg) 9 Aug. 🌐 What caused the beefcake bust-up was a word. A few of them [...] Like hot-not and boesman.
[Ire]Breen & Conlon Hitmen 170: A furious bust-up with a local criminal.

2. (also burst-up) a collapse, either emotional or financial [bust v.1 ].

Ladies’ Companion 20-21 271/2: ‘My coat, my valuable coat and steel spectacles in the inside pocket are vanished,’ said a man who was gazing vainly about in search of the garment. ‘Here’s a bust up,’ ejaculated Mr. Dyer.
Annual Report of the Children's Aid Society (N.Y.) 58: He first worked at stripping tobacco; his necessities next drove him to be a shoe-blackener. Had too many rivals at this occupation [...] Took to selling newspapers — a ‘bust up’ following, he made a trip to the country.
[UK]Sportsman 17 Mar. 2/1: Notes on News [...] Proceedings which seem to point to a soeedy ‘burst-up’ of the whole concern.
[US]Moonshine 158: The Court of Common Council has decided [...] to put a Gladstone bust up in the Guildhall. Whether it will be the Afghan bust up, or the Bulgarian bust up, or the Transvaal bust up, or the Irish bust up, is not yet declared.
[UK]Manchester Courier 18 Apr. 10/5: The most serious ‘burst-up’ that I remember was that of a young chocolate manufacturer from Marseilles.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 12 June 14/2: The first ‘bust up’ of the season has taken place [...] the Long Island club has been sinking deeper and deeper in the mire, until finally they were compelled to throw up their hands May 24, and cry ‘enough!'’.
[UK]B.L. Farjeon Amblers 295: ‘No; bust up,’ explained Roscius cheerfully.
[UK]C. Holme Lonely Plough (1931) 191: I’m glad I had ‘Elijah’ as the final bust-up.
[UK]J.B. Priestley Good Companions 256: But it’s hard on them, this bust-up, I can tell you.
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 343: And when the bust-up comes this job will close down for good.
[US]A. Kober Parm Me 140: She told me the whole story regarding the bust-up from her engagement.

3. a day off [bust n.].

[UK] ‘’Arry on Angling’ in Punch 30 July 45/1: Where d’yer think as I spent my last bust up? [...] I passed it, old pal, in a punt!

4. a rowdy party [bust n.].

[UK]J. Franklyn This Gutter Life 162: Pringle was to come to the grand bust-up of a house-warming party.
[US]J.M. Armstrong Legion of Hell 66: [I] decided that it would be a good idea to blow most of this in a grand ‘bust-up’ to celebrate the commencement of my attempt to carve out a new life .

5. (UK Und.) a share-out, a division of spoils.

[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 399: This is the consequences [...] That’s why Ted’s in the bust-up.

6. see bust n. (2b)

7. see bust n. (3a)