What Does To Bust Out Laughing Mean?

Bust Out Laughing Definition

Definition: To start laughing suddenly and loudly.

A variation of this idiom is burst out laughing.

Origin of to Bust Out Laughing

This idiom became popular in the 1900s. Bust comes from burst, and burst out is a common phrasal verb.

To burst out means to suddenly give an utterance. Because laughing is a sound, it makes sense to use laughing in this expression.

Examples of to Bust Out Laughing

define busting out laughingIn the following example, a woman uses the idiom while talking about her baby.

Kerry: How’s your baby?

Christine: Robby’s great! He just started laughing recently! You wouldn’t believe how adorable it is!

Kerry: I love baby laughter! It always makes me laugh, too.

Christine: I know! Every time he laughs, I can’t help but bust out laughing as well.

Kerry: Take a video next time to show me. I want to see it!

busted out laughingIn this dialogue, a woman uses the idiom while discussing a bad first date.

Arlena: Oh my goodness! I just had the worst first date in the history of the universe.

Nyima: That seems like it must be an exaggeration.

Arlena: Maybe, but it was pretty bad. Trust me.

Nyima: Tell me what happened.

Arlena: Well, I heard that men like it when you laugh at their jokes.

Nyima: Yeah?

Arlena: So my date told me he was a professional clown. I busted out laughing because I thought he was joking. I wanted him to think that I thought he was funny. As it turns out, he was serious. I was so embarrassed that I left the date early.

For a discussion of burst vs. bursted, see here.

More Examples

In this excerpt, a mother describes how her murdered son used to laugh often.

  • “He was like a jokester. He would bust out laughing all the time,’’ his mother said through sobs. “Lamarr was very, very kindhearted. He was. He was.’’ –Chicago Tribune

This excerpt uses the idiom in a movie review. The author describes how actors tried very hard not to start laughing.

  • Gerard Butler grimaces and growls his way through this kajillionth “Die Hard” knockoff, while elite actors such as Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo and Angela Bassett do their best not to burst out laughing mid-take. –Chicago Sun Times


The phrase bust out laughing is an expression that means to begin to laugh with no warning. It implies that the person is laughing quite hard.