bust a gut


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)
  • 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?
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