Definition of rustle in US English:



  • 1no object Make a soft, muffled crackling sound like that caused by the movement of dry leaves or paper.

    ‘she came closer, her skirt swaying and rustling’
    • ‘My reverie was interrupted abruptly when I heard the leaves rustling.’
    • ‘Not a leaf rustled, but somehow he seemed to hear the movement.’
    • ‘If you listened closely you could almost hear the grass rustling in the wind, almost feel the warm breeze.’
    • ‘One night, as I was sleeping, I heard voices like wind rustling in the leaves.’
    • ‘I could hear the birds chirping and the leaves rustling in the wind.’
    • ‘Birds were chirping in a cacophony of songs, while somewhere in the background there was the distinctive and yet subtle whisper of leaves rustling.’
    • ‘At first Jaime was terrified, but the music of the wind rustling in the leaves and the dazzle of the stars overhead calmed his fears.’
    • ‘Skirts rustled like dead leaves as Frau von Rogoff descended the stairs.’
    • ‘She could hear the soft breeze blow through the trees; leaves rustling and crackling together.’
    • ‘When the wind rustled through the leaves it reminded her of her brothers laughing.’
    • ‘The sounds of leaves rustling in the wind were whirling around in a pit of fury.’
    • ‘The busy castle sounds drifted away, and a soft wind rustled through the leaves of the apple trees, stirring up the heady scent of sage and mint.’
    • ‘She heard the leaves rustling in the trees, and stopped.’
    • ‘Her deep gold skirts rustled in the wind, and the silver belt buckle caught the morning sunlight.’
    • ‘Navigating to the other side of a huge tree, she hears some leaves rustle.’
    • ‘A bird chirped, leaves rustled, and wind scattered some branches.’
    • ‘Long, silent moments pass with only the soft sound of the leaves rustling to break the silence.’
    • ‘The only thing they heard was the night wind rustling and rushing through the leaves of the trees.’
    • ‘You could hear the wind rustling through the shingles and down into the chimney.’
    • ‘He heard a newspaper rustling as the wind chased it across the pavement.’
    swish, whisper, sigh, whoosh
    swish, swishing, whisper, whispering, rustling
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    1. 1.1with adverbial of direction Move with a rustling sound.
      ‘a nurse rustled in with a syringe’
      • ‘Now she rustled in with an emphatic announcement of stiff brocade, and enveloped the spectral Angela in an embrace of comfortable arms and bosom.’
      • ‘We're rustled out of the office by the Sommelier.’
      • ‘At last, however, she rustled in, smoothing down a stiff poplin dress, with a little frightened flush in a gracefully rounded cheek.’
      disturb, shake, move, flutter, agitate, swish
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    2. 1.2with object Move (something), causing it to make a rustling sound.
      ‘Dolly rustled the paper irritably’
      • ‘With the sound of the wind rustling the neon green leaves, Theo fell into a gentle sleep.’
      • ‘The only sound was the breeze rustling the leaves of the trees.’
      • ‘There must have been the same animal warmth, the same sweet animal smell, the same sounds of animals breathing, chewing and rustling hay.’
      • ‘A slight breeze rustles the long grass and the only other movement is supplied by the thousands of cattle that call the Pampas home.’
      • ‘A sudden wind blew through the open window, blowing through them both and rustling their hair and clothing, but neither Raine nor Eave noticed.’
      • ‘But now it's a pleasant place, great for walking my dog or sitting on a bench listening to the breeze rustle the overhanging trees.’
      • ‘She rustles a couple of black garbage bags in her hands.’
      • ‘The only sounds were the gentle breeze rustling my curtains and the buzzing of the refrigerator.’
      • ‘Feel the sun on your face, hear the sounds around you - maybe water from a gentle stream or the sound of a breeze rustling the grass, or birds above.’
      • ‘He pulled me to him, wrapping me in a tight hug, his breath rustling my hair.’
      • ‘But it was as subtle as the breeze rustling the leaves of the olive trees.’
      • ‘The only sounds were that of an owl's wings rustling the air softly.’
      • ‘Birds called in the distance, and a gentle breeze was rustling the leaves.’
      • ‘A gentle breeze welcomed them by rustling the leaves above.’
      • ‘Freeing my arm from where it was wedged between the window and the sill, I slowly turned, accidentally rustling the bush.’
      • ‘A brittle wind gusted through the trees that surrounded the small hamlet, barely rustling the leaves.’
      • ‘Taking a few more steps forward, Mary tried to rustle her skirt a bit and gave a fake cough so that she wouldn't scare him by arriving so suddenly, but he jumped anyway.’
      • ‘I was suddenly aware of the breezes rustling the grasses, tossing the branches of the trees to and fro, dashing the leaves against each other.’
      • ‘To her left, there was a mouse rustling the long grass along the alley sides.’
      • ‘In the Emus dance, the hunter hides behind a tree and rustles the leaves so the inquisitive old Emus will come closer’
  • 2with object Round up and steal (cattle, horses, or sheep).

    • ‘Consider the problem of cattle rustling in the Horn of Africa.’
    • ‘It continues to operate in the region today, even though cattle rustling and other forms of thievery rarely occur.’
    • ‘The brothers have a bone to pick with the cattle rustling Lanston family.’
    • ‘Cattle rustling in the north had not been uncommon.’
    • ‘Traditional B-Western themes such as cattle and horse rustling continued, but they were war-related.’
    • ‘Lever and his men raided Ralph and his tenants, rustling their cattle and stealing everything that wasn't nailed down.’
    • ‘Stilwell had killed his brother in Flagstaff for rustling cattle.’
    • ‘They came at night, killed 200 and rustled cattle.’
    • ‘Some of the rustled cattle were being driven to the coasts for export to nearby islands.’
    • ‘In 1875, Dan was one of a coterie of five thieves rustling cattle and horses in southeastern Wyoming.’
    • ‘When, I ask you, would be the best time of year to rustle suburban cattle?’
    • ‘Shoot-outs, killings, cattle rustling, and looting were the order of the day.’
    • ‘Farm watch schemes had been established to combat crimes including sheep rustling and poaching and were proving particularly successful, she said.’
    • ‘With the younger men off to war, older cowboys can't stop the cattle rustling.’
    • ‘From several metres, the youths take turns lassoing the antlers with rope, like cowboys rustling cattle.’
    • ‘Penetration by the cash economy also explained a new intensity of cattle rustling in the region.’
    • ‘Later he rustles cattle, reminisces about the married woman he seduced and abandoned, and deliberately shoots a woman who has just saved his life, then tries to swindle her.’
    • ‘The renegades first rustled herds of cattle to feed their people left starving on the government's reservations.’
    • ‘Charlie had arrested him twice before, once for being drunk and a second time for rustling cattle.’
    • ‘Cowboys lived along the line to contain cattle and prevent rustling.’
    steal, thieve, take, abduct, kidnap
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  • 3North American informal no object Move or act quickly or energetically; hustle.

    ‘rustle around the kitchen, see what there is’
    • ‘I began to rustle around the kitchen looking for all the stuff in the recipe.’
    • ‘"Alright now," said Neal suddenly waking up and leaping out of bed "what we must do is eat, at once, Louanne rustle around the kitchen see what there is, Jack you and I go downstairs and call Allen, Al you see what you can do straightening out the house."’


  • usually in singular A soft, muffled crackling sound like that made by the movement of dry leaves or paper.

    ‘there was a rustle in the undergrowth behind her’
    • ‘We heard a grunt from the undergrowth, then a rustle of leaves, then something pawing impatiently at the ground.’
    • ‘The simplest sounds - the rustle of a snare drum, a snatch of vocals looped repeatedly - induce a trancelike state.’
    • ‘There was a rustle, then the sound of a door opening.’
    • ‘A loud rustle sounded from the floor of her tree house.’
    • ‘After that, there was only the sound of clicking abacus beads and the rustle of papers.’
    • ‘A soft rustle of leaves dimly caught my attention.’
    • ‘Her ears picked up the sound of a soft rustle, and then beneath it, the quiet steady thudding of cushioned weight hitting the ground.’
    • ‘A soft rustle beside me warned me of Laila's approach.’
    • ‘Beside her, Lord Avon mumbled in his sleep and turned over with a soft rustle of the silken sheets.’
    • ‘Just then a faint rustle of leaves disturbed the pressing silence.’
    • ‘There were no song birds and the only sound was the gentle rustle of a light breeze through the stiff orderly lines of cabbages, swedes and turnips.’
    • ‘The sound was soft, barely louder than the rustle of dry leaves, and nobody noticed.’
    • ‘She told me once that she could hear the ancient secrets of the land whispered to her through the bark, if she laid her head against it, or in the gentle rustle of the leaves.’
    • ‘There was a soft rustle of leaves that came with a chilly breeze.’
    • ‘It is replaced by the soft rustle of saris, the smells of incense and saffron, and the Eastern twang of sitars.’
    • ‘The village was empty though, with only the rustle of the leaves to greet them.’
    • ‘Outside, she could hear the faint sound of wood being chopped in conjunction with the soft rustle of leaves blowing in the wind.’
    • ‘It landed solidly, making a soft rustle as the metallic surface met paper.’
    • ‘The rustle of the leaves overhead was restful, and the lacy pattern of shadows cast on the ground was hypnotic.’
    • ‘There was the chirp of birds, the soft rustle of a faint breeze in the trees.’
    swish, swishing, whisper, whispering, rustling
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Phrasal Verbs

  • rustle something up

    • Produce something quickly when it is needed.

      ‘see if you can rustle up a cup of coffee for Paula and me, please’
      • ‘While you're listening to ‘The Jane Austen Music Compact Disc’, you can rustle something up from ‘The Jane Austen Cookbook ’, and so on.’
      • ‘Once the concrete creations had been rustled up with the help of a cement mixer at the back of the art department they were decorated, painted and varnished before being placed outside the school.’
      • ‘A hasty package of aid was rustled up for impoverished English students to give an impression of parity.’
      • ‘He offered him a job in his own private cricket circus, and rustled him up a work permit.’
      • ‘I'm not saying that they can be rustled up in minutes, but they can be made in advance and either reheated or quickly finished off in the kitchen.’
      • ‘When I asked if I could have dessert, she said the chef had gone home, but she could rustle something up if we wanted.’
      • ‘Imagine having a husband who would rustle you up a tray of Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee in a matter of minutes.’
      • ‘Asked how many fans could be rustled up for the semi-final, the manager responded: ‘We've seen a greater number of supporters coming through our gates in the past year.’’
      • ‘So, we asked six of Britain's finest to rustle something up at their favourite restaurant for the charity auction.’
      • ‘This dish is rustled up in a moment, and is really great at the end of a hard day in the kitchen or in a TV studio.’
      • ‘So I grab the kids favourite meal and manage to rustle it up in the microwave, we are talking good old pasta and meatballs here.’
      • ‘And for the child with a discerning palate, not only were there the usual children's dishes but small portions of items on the main menu could be rustled up on request.’
      • ‘But the match went ahead - until rain stopped play - after substitutes were rustled up.’
      • ‘Even for those who cook regularly, the book has some interesting dishes which can be rustled up in a jiffy.’
      • ‘But when I saw the ingredient list, I realised I just might be able to rustle something up, after all, from what I already had in the house.’
      prepare hastily, produce, make, put together
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Late Middle English (as a verb): imitative; compare with Flemish rijsselen and Dutch ritselen. The noun dates from the mid 18th century.