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busy beaver

A very busy, assiduous, or hardworking person. Taken from the phrase "busy as a beaver," referring to beavers' reputation for being extremely industrious. Between working two part-time jobs, volunteering on the weekends, and looking after his little brother, Sam's been a busy beaver this summer.
See also: beaver, busy

busy work

Menial activities, tasks, or chores meant to occupy time, more so than to accomplish anything productive. I actually wanted to learn more about fossils, but the substitute teacher just gave us busy work to do.
See also: busy, work

busy little beaver

A very busy, assiduous, or hardworking person. Taken from the phrase "busy as a beaver," referring to beavers' reputation for being extremely industrious. Between working two part-time jobs, volunteering on the weekends, and looking after his brother, Sam's been a busy little beaver this summer.
See also: beaver, busy, little

be (as) busy as a bee

To be very busy. I'm currently choreographing three plays, so I'm as busy as a bee. Can we meet next week instead? I'm busy as a bee right now.
See also: bee, busy

keep (one) busy

1. To stay active and engaged in many pursuits. I haven't seen you in so long! Have you been keeping busy? A: "How have you been?" B: "Oh, you know, keeping busy. That's what happens when you have three kids!" I try to keep busy when I'm off during the summer, but many days I find myself just wallowing in the pool.
2. To ensure that one is occupied. In this usage, a person's name or pronoun appears between "keep" and "busy." Keep the kids busy while I wrap these presents. I've been trying to keep myself busy while I look for a job, but I won't lie, the days are long. I'm sure all this homework will keep you busy.
See also: busy, keep

the busiest men have the most leisure

People who finish their work quickly ultimately have more free time. A: "Tom has the highest GPA in our class, but whenever I see him, he's playing video games, not studying!" B: "I guess it's true what they say—the busiest men have the most leisure."
See also: busy, have, leisure, men, most

(as) busy as a beaver (building a new dam)

Very busy, assiduous, or hardworking. The phrase refers to beavers' reputation for being extremely industrious. Between working two part-time jobs, volunteering on the weekends, and looking after his little brother, Sam's been busy as a beaver this summer. I've been as busy as a beaver building a new dam this year. I've had almost no free time!
See also: beaver, busy, new

(as) busy as a hibernating bear

Not busy at all; inactive. He says he has no time to help our charity, but I know that he's off from school right now and busy as a hibernating bear!
See also: bear, busy, hibernate

busy with (something)

1. adjective Spending a lot of one's time focused or working on a particular task, goal, or project. I'm so busy with school right now that I haven't seen my friends in weeks.
2. verb To immerse oneself in a task or project. In this usage, a reflexive pronoun is used between "busy" and "with." Ever since my break-up with Ben, I've busied myself with work to keep from crying all day long.
3. verb To engage or occupy someone with a distraction, task, or project. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "busy" and "with." If you busy the baby with a toy, he'll stop crying in no time. My husband is off all week, so I'm busying him with repairs around the house.
See also: busy

busiest men have the most leisure

 and busiest men find the most time
Prov. Industrious people get their work done efficiently and therefore have time to do what they want. Fred: How does Phil do it? He produces more than the rest of us, but he also manages to pursue all his hobbies. Alan: The busiest men have the most leisure. As the town's only doctor, Bert worked extremely hard, yet he always had time to play with his children and go out with his wife. The busiest men find the most time.
See also: busy, have, leisure, men, most

*busy as a beaver (building a new dam)

 and *busy as a bee; *busy as a one-armed paperhanger; *busy as Grand Central Station; *busy as a cat on a hot tin roof; *busy as a fish peddler in Lent; *busy as a cranberry merchant (at Thanksgiving); *busy as popcorn on a skillet
very busy. (*Also: as ~.) My boss keeps me as busy as a one-armed paperhanger. I don't have time to talk to you. I'm as busy as a beaver. When the tourist season starts, this store is busy as Grand Central Station. Sorry I can't go to lunch with you. I'm as busy as a beaver building a new dam. Prying into other folks' business kept him busy as popcorn on a skillet.
See also: beaver, busy

*busy as a hibernating bear

not busy at all. (*Also: as ~.) Tom: I can't go with you. I'm busy. Jane: Yeah. You're as busy as a hibernating bear. He lounged on the sofa all day, busy as a hibernating bear.
See also: bear, busy, hibernate

busy oneself with someone or something

to occupy one's time by dealing with someone or something. Tony busied himself with helping Sam. Mrs. Wilson busied herself with little Jimmy.
See also: busy

busy someone with someone or something

to keep someone busy dealing with someone or something. You should busy the children with some activity. We will busy Randy with cleaning up the garage.
See also: busy

get busy

to start working; to work or appear to work harder or faster. The boss is coming. You'd better get busy. I've got to get busy and clean this house up.
See also: busy, get

(Have you) been keeping busy?

 and (Have you been) keeping busy?; You been keeping busy?
Inf. a vague greeting asking about how someone has been occupied. Tom: Been keeping busy? Bill: Yeah. Too busy. Sue: Hi, Fred. Have you been keeping busy? Fred: Not really. Just doing what I have to.
See also: been, keeping

I'm busy.

Do not bother me now.; I cannot attend to your needs now. Bob: Can I talk to you? Bill: I'm busy. Bob: It's important. Bill: Sorry, I'm busy! Fred: Can you help me with this? Bill: I'm busy. Can it wait a minute? Fred: Sure. No rush.
See also: busy

(I've) been keeping myself busy.

 and (I've been) keeping myself busy.
a standard response to a greeting inquiry asking what one has been doing. Bill: What have you been doing? Bob: I've been keeping myself busy. What about you? Bill: About the same. John: Yo! What have you been up to? Bill: Been keeping myself busy.
See also: been, busy, keeping, myself

keep the stork flying

 and keep the stork busy
Rur. to have lots of children. Sally's pregnant again, with their sixth. They sure do keep the stork flying! Grandma and grandpa kept the stork flying. I've got ten aunts and uncles.
See also: flying, keep, stork

busy as a beaver

Also, busy as a bee. Hardworking, very industrious, as in With all her activities, Sue is always busy as a bee, or Bob's busy as a beaver trying to finish painting before it rains. The comparison to beavers dates from the late 1700s, the variant from the late 1300s. Also see eager beaver; work like a beaver.
See also: beaver, busy

busy work

Activity meant to take up time but not actually be productive. For example, We have to put in an eight-hour day, even if we do nothing but busy work. [c. 1840]
See also: busy, work

get busy

Start working, become active, as in Stop dawdling; get busy, or We'd better get busy on this paper. [c. 1900] Also see get a move on; get going; get on the stick.
See also: busy, get

a busy bee

If you describe someone as a busy bee, you mean that they enjoy doing a lot of things and always keep themselves busy. `I enjoyed being a busy bee, getting things done,' she said in her confident way. Note: You can also say that someone is as busy as a bee. He is busy as a bee designing every production in London.
See also: bee, busy

as busy as a bee

very busy or industrious.
See also: bee, busy

busy bee

an industrious person
See also: bee, busy

(as) busy as a ˈbee

very busy
See also: bee, busy

a ˌbusy ˈbee

(informal) a cheerful and busy person
See also: bee, busy

keep yourself ˈbusy

find enough things to do: Since she retired she’s kept herself very busy.
See also: busy, keep