bust a gut

Discussion in 'English Only' started by susanna76, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. susanna76 Senior Member

    Is the phrase "bust a gut" both BrE and AmE slang?

    And is it used in both BrE and AmE to mean either of 2 things indicated here:

    1. exert oneself to the utmost
    2. explode with strong feeling, esp. laughter or anger?

    I found it used to mean the former:

    "Tell him from me to break the habit of a lifetime [coming home at 10pm] and make it back for bath time for once. Really bust a gut. [vs. coming home at 9pm, as he was expected to that day]"
    (C. Alliott, A Crowded Marriage)
  2. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Meaning (1) for me. I would understand (2) in context, but it's not the meaning that came to mind when I read the title.
  3. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    Both 1 and 2 are understood as such in the USA.
  4. susanna76 Senior Member

    Great! Thank you both!
  5. redgiant Senior Member

    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Imagination: In the opening game of a football/soccer tournament, Hong Kong opted to put out a half strength squad against Macau, who were viewed as the weakest team in the group. It was more than reasonable because they had to save some key players for stronger opponents like North Korea and Vietnam in the following 9 days.

    When asked why Hong Kong didn't put out a stronger line-up against Macau during the post match press conference, the coach said "we didn't intend to bust a gut at the start of 4 games in 10 days."

    Is it idiomatic to say "not to bust a gut" in such a situation where a team reserves their best for stronger teams and uses a half-strength squad against weaker teams?
  6. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    Yes, that's idiomatic.
  7. susanna76 Senior Member

    To redgiant and PaulQ: I think that's actually a great example for this phrase.

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