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[huhs-uh l] /ˈhʌs əl/

verb (used without object), hustled, hustling.
to proceed or work rapidly or energetically:
to hustle about putting a house in order.
to push or force one’s way; jostle or shove.
to be aggressive, especially in business or other financial dealings.
Slang. to earn one’s living by illicit or unethical means.
Slang. (of a prostitute) to solicit clients.
verb (used with object), hustled, hustling.
to convey or cause to move, especially to leave, roughly or hurriedly:
They hustled him out of the bar.
to pressure or coerce (a person) to buy or do something:
to hustle the customers into buying more drinks.
to urge, prod, or speed up:
Hustle your work along.
to obtain by aggressive or illicit means:
He could always hustle a buck or two from some sucker.
to beg; solicit.
to sell in or work (an area), especially by high-pressure tactics:
The souvenir venders began hustling the town at dawn.
to sell aggressively:
to hustle souvenirs.
to jostle, push, or shove roughly.
Slang. to induce (someone) to gamble or to promote (a gambling game) when the odds of winning are overwhelmingly in one’s own favor.
Slang. to cheat; swindle:
They hustled him out of his savings.

energetic activity, as in work.
discourteous shoving, pushing, or jostling.

Informal. a competitive struggle:
the hustle to earn a living.
a fast, lively, popular ballroom dance evolving from Latin American, swing, rock, and disco dance styles, with a strong basic rhythm and simple step pattern augmented by strenuous turns, breaks, etc.
to shove or crowd (someone) roughly
to move or cause to move hurriedly or furtively: he hustled her out of sight
(transitive) to deal with or cause to proceed hurriedly: to hustle legislation through
(slang) to earn or obtain (something) forcefully
(US & Canadian, slang) (of procurers and prostitutes) to solicit
an instance of hustling
undue activity
a disco dance of the 1970s

1680s, “to shake to and fro” (especially of money in a cap, as part of a game called hustle-cap), metathesized from Dutch hutselen, husseln “to shake, to toss,” frequentative of hutsen, variant of hotsen “to shake.” “The stems hot-, hut- appear in a number of formations in both High and Low German dialects, all implying a shaking movement” [OED]. Related: Hustled; hustling. Meaning “push roughly, shove” first recorded 1751. That of “hurry, move quickly” is from 1812.

The key-note and countersign of life in these cities [of the U.S. West] is the word “hustle.” We have caught it in the East. but we use it humorously, just as we once used the Southern word “skedaddle,” but out West the word hustle is not only a serious term, it is the most serious in the language. [Julian Ralph, “Our Great West,” N.Y., 1893]

Sense of “to get in a quick, illegal manner” is 1840 in American English; that of “to sell goods aggressively” is 1887.


“pushing activity; activity in the interest of success,” 1891, American English, from hustle (v.); earlier it meant “a shaking together” (1715). Sense of “illegal business activity” is by 1963, American English. As a name of a popular dance, by 1975.



Related Terms

get a hustle on, get a move on, on the hustle

[criminal senses may be related to early 19th-century hustle, ”do the sex act, fuck”]


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