v. burst, burst·ing, bursts
a. To come open or fly apart suddenly or violently, especially from internal pressure.
b. To explode.
2. To be or seem to be full to the point of breaking open: The sacks were bursting with grain.
3. To emerge, come forth, or arrive suddenly: burst out of the door.
4. To come apart or seem to come apart because of overwhelming emotion: thought his heart would burst with happiness.
5. To give sudden utterance or expression: burst out laughing; burst into tears.
1. To cause to burst: burst the balloon. See Synonyms at break.
2. To exert strong pressure in order to force (something) open.
3. To separate (a continuous form or printout) into individual sheets.
1. The result of bursting, especially the explosion of a projectile or bomb on impact or in the air.
a. The number of bullets fired from an automatic weapon by one pull of the trigger.
b. A volley of bullets fired from an automatic weapon: The machine gunner fired a quick burst.
3. A sudden, intense display of activity or emotion: a burst of excitement from the crowd when the concert started.
4. An abrupt, intense increase; a rush: a burst of speed; fitful bursts of wind.
5. A period of intense activity: “I write in very short bursts—10 or 15 minutes” (Zoe Heller).
[Middle English bursten, from Old English berstan.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.