The Lexijon: Busted

There’s this shop on Rt 25 out in Smithtown called “U R Busted,” which cracks me up every time I see it. I think it’s a lawyer specializing in defending drug possession cases, but it may also be a bail bondsman. It’s not too clear. The sign, however, causes me great mirth whenever I pass by it.
It also makes me think of the time that my best friend, Erick, ragged on me for using the word *busted*, to describe something that was broken. We were working in *Sears*, which puts this is a tight 4-month frame in the winter of 1992. We were in the hardware section, meaning that half the time, we dealt with people returning old and broken tools under the *Craftsman* lifetime guarantee. I think *Sears* has since limited this program.
So someone came in with something that didn’t work, and I asked Erick where the replacement part would be, saying that the object in question was “busted.” Well this caused Erick great mirth. He kept repeating “busted,” and told other people that I said something was “busted.” When I said that it was a perfectly reasonable use of the word, he dismissed me. We eventually had to go to a dictionary–a paper one. We didn’t use computers or the internet to search for meaning back then. Entry number 2 of the word *bust* in my **Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary** has it as a synonym for break or burst. It was coined in the 1860s, which is even older than I am.
But it never left me how hard he ribbed me for using *busted* to mean something broken. I still use the word, and I enjoy “Busting Up a Starbucks,” by Mike Doughty, a bit more than I suspect most people do.