I'm an illustrator. Can I say "I'm fully booked" to mean that my schedule is full?

I've always heard the booked verb applied to "performative" professions: Models, event planners, singers, etc. Never for pure service and creation-oriented occupations as on-site technical support providers or painters. You book a model. You don't book a writer.

If this expression isn't appropriate, how else could I word that "schedule" sentence without being so passive or mouthful?

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    As an alternative, many self-employed would use the word "contracted". For example, an IT consultant might say "I'm fully contracted".
    – epsilon
    Aug 8, 2017 at 1:31
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    I think anyone can say "I'm fully booked for next week" informally, even a retiree with a busy schedule with rounds of golf, and canasta card games planned. I think 'fully booked' is more about scheduling by time slot than by profession. If it is more about 'work-load' capacity, you hear people say "I'm committed to other projects for the next three weeks" or 'I have contracts that will require all my time until late August" - or simply "I'm committed until ..."
    – Tom22
    Aug 8, 2017 at 1:31
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    Add that as an answer, @Tom22 :) Aug 8, 2017 at 10:31
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    @marcellothearcane ditto from me too! For the sake of curiosity, couldn't a self-employed person simply say they are working full-time until a specified date?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 8, 2017 at 10:39
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    As @Tom22 said, you've seen 'fully booked' used by people who sell their time in fixed increments. Yes, you can say that you're fully booked if you charge by time. If it's piece-work (paid by results) then you might just say that you're too busy.
    – whanrott
    Aug 8, 2017 at 13:17

3 Answers 3


"I'm fully booked." or "I'm booked up." is common usage. A quick look around online suggests that it's common in British English than American but I don't think any of us "Yanks" would be confused or even momentarily surprised to hear it.

Originally, theaters and restaurants were booked and people were just busy but I think we can all be booked up now.

  • Yeah, saying you're "booked up" in the US is a common way to say that you have all the work you can handle at the moment. It doesn't necessarily mean that your schedule is actually filled with appointments/events, but can simply mean that your work-to-relaxation ratio limit has been exceeded.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 8, 2017 at 21:51
  • Hello, Dave. It would be good to add a couple of examples (using reasonable English) taken from the internet. Aug 8, 2017 at 22:24

This isn't metaphorical. Booking is an everyday process where people take slots (for example, a superstore arranging to receive food trucks at a certain hour of the day). That's what booking is: arranging to do a thing at a certain time. It isn't "metaphorical" or "figurative" for you to do that with your own time, even if you are a poet, and not a dirty truck.

Yes, your usage is totally acceptable and also very normal and already exists. If you don't like it, then use your artistic skills to invent a new word, or simply say you are "busy".

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    Hello, equin0x80. If you check in etymon, you will see that the accepted first usage of the verb 'book' was indeed connected with entries in literal books. All other broadened senses (recordings online; notional commitments) are metaphorical broadenings. Dec 24, 2022 at 12:52
  • Thanks Edwin. However, that hasn't been relevant for 400 or more years, and I assume the poster wanted help with English, and not mediaevalism. Merry Christmas mate.
    – equin0x80
    Dec 24, 2022 at 14:50
  • And to you. But please take a look at the aims of ELU. J Lawler, in particular, has written copiously on metaphor themes (eg time is money: instantiation 'I spent an hour'), and this is the level at which the metalanguage is normally used on ELU. 'Booking' in this sense may well be considered as 'metaphor: subclass, dead metaphor'. Dec 24, 2022 at 15:06
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    Indeed you are technically correct, the best kind of correct! And I withdraw my earlier comment. I still don't think it's useful to OP. But thanks.
    – equin0x80
    Dec 24, 2022 at 15:08

As someone who works in Catering services, we use Fully Booked as our time slot : man power has been exceeded for the day.

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    Dec 23, 2022 at 2:53

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