[buhs-uh l] /ˈbʌs əl/

fullness around or below the waist of a dress, as added by a peplum, bows, ruffles, etc.
a pad, cushion, or framework formerly worn under the back of a woman’s skirt to expand, support, and display the full cut and drape of a dress.
when intr, often foll by about. to hurry or cause to hurry with a great show of energy or activity
energetic and noisy activity
a cushion or a metal or whalebone framework worn by women in the late 19th century at the back below the waist in order to expand the skirt

“be active,” 1570s (bustling “noisy or excited activity” is from early 15c.), frequentative of Middle English bresten “to rush, break,” from Old English bersten (see burst (v.)), influenced by Old Norse buask “to make oneself ready” (see busk (v.)), or from busk (v.) via a frequentative form buskle. Related: Bustled; bustling; bustler.

“activity, stir, fuss, commotion,” 1630s, from bustle (v.).

“padding in a skirt,” 1788, of uncertain origin, perhaps from German Buschel “bunch, pad,” or it might be a special use of bustle (n.1) with reference to “rustling motion.”

BUSTLE. A pad stuffed with cotton, feathers, bran, &c., worn by ladies for the double purpose of giving a greater rotundity or prominence to the hips, and setting off the smallness of the waist. [Bartlett, “Dictionary of Americanisms,” 1848]


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