bust

Definitions

General English

  • noun a woman’s breasts

Law

  • verb to catch and punish someone for doing something that is illegal

Media Studies

  • noun the situation when an article or headline is larger than the space allotted to it.

Military

  • adjective damaged or broken
  • verb to damage or break

Slang

  • noun an arrest, especially for possession of illicit drugs. An item of hippy jargon which originated in the early 1960s and which by the late 1980s had become a common enough colloquialism to be used in the written and broadcast media. In American street-gang and underworld usage the word already had the sense of ‘catch in the act’ by the late 1950s.
  • noun a spectacular achievement or successful coup. A teenage term of approbation of the late 1980s, coming from the jargon of basketball, where it means a good shot.
  • noun a wild party or celebration
  • verb to arrest, especially for possession of illicit drugs. In the USA the word was being used in this sense by the 1950s.
  • verb to demote. The word is used in this sense in armed-forces jargon, as in ‘busted down to sergeant’.

Origin & History of “bust”

there are two different words bust in English. The one meaning ‘break’ (18th c.) is simply an alteration of burst. Bust ‘sculpture of head and chest’ (17th c.) comes via French buste from Italian busto ‘upper body’, of uncertain origin (Latin had the temptingly similar bustum ‘monument on a tomb’, but this does not seem to fit in with the word’s primary sense ‘upper body’). In English, application of the word to the human chest probably developed in the 18th century (one of the earliest examples is from Byron’s Don Juan 1819: ‘There was an Irish lady, to whose bust I ne’er saw justice done’), although as late as the early 19th century it could still be used with reference to men’s chests, and had not become particularized to female breasts: ‘His naked bust would have furnished a model for a statuary’, Washington Irving, A tour on the prairies 1835.
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