Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bust v.1

1. to invade, lit. or fig.

(a) [late 18C+] (also burst, bus’em up, bust into, bust up) to intrude, to break into; thus bursting/busting n.

(b) [late 19C+] to raid, to arrest.

2. to cause trouble for.

(a) [mid-19C+] (US, also bust up on) to cause to go bankrupt, to ruin.

(b) [mid-19C+] (also burst) to inform against.

(c) [late 19C+] to reduce in rank, to demote; occas. to expel completely.

(d) [1940s+] (also bust out at) to arrest, esp. on a drugs charge.

(e) [1960s] (US teen) to tease.

(f) [1960s–70s] (US) to catch someone or something out, to uncover.

(g) [1960s+] of a college professor, to fail a student.

(h) [1990s+] to discipline, e.g. at work.

(i) see bust out v.5 (1)

3. [mid-19C] to go on a spree; thus busting n.

4. to suffer a lit. or fig. ‘break-down’.

(a) [mid-19C–1970s] (US campus) to fail an examination.

(b) [late 19C] (Aus.) to fail at, to blunder.

(c) [mid-19C+] (orig. US, also burst, burst up, bust up) to come to financial ruin, to go bankrupt.

5. to attack physically.

(a) [mid-19C+] (also burst) to kill, to murder.

(b) [late 19C+] (also burst, bust up) to hit.

(c) [20C+] to fight.

(d) [1930s–50s] (also bust down) to defeat.

(e) [1940s+] to rape, to deflower (forcibly); also homosexual use.

6. [mid-19C+] (orig. US) to go very fast; thus bust along, bust it, bust off.

7. to ‘explode’ physically.

(a) [late 19C+] (also burst, bust up) to explode with any form of pent-up emotion, e.g. laughter or rage.

(b) [1920s+] (orig. US, also bust up) to break down in laughter.

(c) [1960s+] (US black) to ejaculate, esp. prematurely.

(d) [1970s+] (US black) to reprimand aggressively; to attack verbally.

8. [mid-19C–1920s] a euph. for to hell with...! under hell n.

9. [late 19C+] (Aus., also bust up) to waste money, usu. on drink.

10. [1920s] to surpass, e.g. a record.

11. [1940s+] (US black) to alter a natural crinkly black head of hair into a straight process n. (1) style.

12. [1950s] to ‘break’, as in journalistic stories.

13. [1950s+] to do well, esp. in a test, to receive a good grade, e.g. he busted an A in Math.

14. [late 19C; 1970s+] an all-purpose term, to happen, to do (esp. skillfully).

15. [1980s] (UK black) to launch, e.g. a new song or artist.

16. [1980s+] (rap music) to pay attention, to notice, to listen to, to enjoy.

17. [1990s+] (US campus) to fall down.

18. [2000s] (US black) to be worthy of respect.

19. see bust up v. (1)

In phrases

bust... (v.)

see also under relevant n. or adj.

bust a blood-vessel (v.) (also bust an artery)

[20C+] to lose one’s temper, to lose emotional control.

bust a cap (v.)

1. [1970s+] (US gay) to have aggressive, fast anal intercourse.

2. see under cap n.2

3. see under cap n.4

bust a gun (v.)

[1980s+] (UK black) to fire a gun.

bust around (v.)

1. [1940s] (US) to fight with, to attack.

2. [1950s] to arrive, to appear.

bust a shot (n.)

[1990s+] (US black) to shoot someone.

bust ass

see separate entries.

bust in (v.) (also bust into, bust through)

1. [late 19C+] (US) to enter, with overtones of speed, aggressiveness.

2. [1920s–50s] to interfere, to butt in.

3. [1950s] to gatecrash a party.

bust it (v.)

[2000s] (US) to ejaculate.

bust on (v.)

1. [1960s] (US) to hit, to attack; as phr. bust on someone’s ass.

2. [1960s+] (US) to criticize.

3. [1990s+] (US black) to inform against someone.

bust one’s ass (v.) (also bust one’s arse, …behind, …britches, ...buns, ...butt, ...gun, ...pants) [ass n. (4)/arse n. (4)/behind n. (1)/buns n. (3)/butt n.1 (1c)/SE pants]

1. [1930s+] to work extremely hard, to put in a great effort; thus busted-ass adj., hardworking.

2. [1940s+] (orig. US) to get injured (esp. in a car or similar crash).

bust out

see separate entries.

bust rhymes (v.) (also bust a rhyme)

[1980s+] (rap music) to work as a rap musician, DJ or MC.

bust slugs (v.)

[1990s+] to fire a gun.

bust someone down (v.)

[1950s] (US) to disparage.

bust someone out (v.)

[1970s+] (US black) of a man, to have sexual intercourse with someone, to bring to orgasm.

bust someone’s ass (v.) [ass n. (4)]

1. [1930s+] (orig. US, also can someone’s ass) to beat up, to attack physically.

2. [1960s+] (US) to harass, to nag, to annoy.

3. [1970s] (US) to arrest.

4. [2000s] (US) to sodomize.

5. [2000s] (US) to exhaust oneself working.

bust someone’s horns (v.)

[1980s+] (US) to goad, to annoy someone.

bust someone up (v.)

[mid-19C+] to beat someone up, to hurt someone in a fight.

bust up

see separate entries.

In exclamations

bust a frog!

[mid-19C–1930s] (Cockney) a mild excl.

bust it! (also bust it all!)

1. [late 19C+] an excl. of annoyance, frustration.

2. [1920s] (US, also bust it up!) be quiet!

bust me! (also bustmy!)

[mid-19C+] a mild oath; an excl. of annoyance, frustration.

bust my . . . !

[20C+] an excl. of surprise or annoyance, ext. by a pertinent n.

bust this!

[1980s+] (orig. US black) now look here! pay attention!

SE in slang uses

In compounds

bust-down (n.)

see separate entry.

busthead (n.) (also busshead)

1. [mid-19C+] (US) strong whisky, or gin, esp. when illegally distilled; also attrib.

2. [1960s] (US tramp) a drunk.

bustskull (n.) (also popskull, swell-head, swell-skull)

[mid-19C+] (US) strong whisky, esp. when illegally distilled; also attrib.

In phrases

bust a grape (v.) [var. on bust a gut under gut n.] [1970s+] (US black/prison )

1. to engage in any form of hard, productive work.

2. to lose emotional control; to hit someone.

bust a gusset (v.) [SE; the straining so hard that the seams of one’s clothes split]

[20C+] (US) to break down with laughter, to lose control, to make a superlative effort.

bust loose (v.) [1920s+] (US)

1. to break free of constraints.

2. to commence, to start happening.

3. to escape from an institution.

bust one’s buttons (v.) (also pop one’s buttons) [SE; the real or fig. bursting out of one’s clothing]

1. [1950s+] (US) to strain oneself physically or emotionally.

2. [1960s+] to swell with pride.

bust one’s vest (v.) [the image of a chest swelling]

[1940s–50s] (US black) to be generous, to display one’s munificence.

bust open (v.)

[1950s] (US) to distress, to make unhappy.

bust out

see separate entries.

bust up

see separate entries.