Night markets are hardly new. Asia is stuffed with them. From Singapor's hawker centers to the jostling markets of Bangkok , excellent cheap food is available late into the night. (Source)

Now jostle has different meanings:

1: verb (used with object), jos·tled,jos·tling.
to bump, push, shove, brush against, or elbow roughly or rudely.

2: to exist in close contact or proximity with: The three families jostle each other in the small house.

In this context, does jostling markets mean a place where it is very crowded or a place where there are a lot of markets next to each other?

  • Both interpretations are at least "credible". It's a matter of logic/personal opinion which one you apply, not directly relevant to learning the correct use of English. – FumbleFingers Nov 14 '17 at 16:37
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    @FumbleFingers I disagree that it's entirely a matter of opinion. We don't typically use "jostle" with things that don't move around, like market stalls. Would you interpret "in the jostling streets of the busy Financial District" as meaning a lot of streets next to each other? – ColleenV Nov 14 '17 at 23:23
  • @Colleen - I agree; I think this question is sound. It provides all the details we ask (cite the source, show your research, state your issue). ELL was created to slake the curiosity of learners like the OP and I'm thankful for this well-formed question. – J.R. Nov 15 '17 at 15:21

In this sense "jostling" means crowded with people (or maybe other creatures) moving about in a busy, but not frantic way. As J.R. mentioned in a comment, it tends to have a positive connotation and make us think more of "lively energy" than rude pushing and shoving. We use "crowded" when we want to describe a lot of people or things in a small space that aren't moving around very much.

Here is a similar example from Atlas Obscura:

Remarkably, this pleasant, quiet meadow can be found in the jostling streets of the busy Financial District in Lower Manhattan.

If you wanted to say the market had a lot of shops in a small space, you might say the market is "packed" with shops. Here is an example from a travel article on CNN's site:

Next to Nippori Station is a street packed with tiny fabric stores...

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    Is it just me, or does jostling have a certain positive vibe to it as well? When I read the definitions (to push and shove; to make one's way by pushing or elbowing), jostling sounds like rude behavior. But when I think of a jostling market, I think of a bustling market, one that's crowded, but with a lively energy that's more positive than negative. – J.R. Nov 14 '17 at 16:22
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    @J.R I was looking for a description like "lively energy" this morning. I will add it when I get time. I think jostling is much more positive than crowded or busy. I wonder if "bustling" wouldn't have been a better choice for this context. – ColleenV Nov 14 '17 at 18:05
  • @ColleenV certainly "bustling" is the more tried-and-true term -- which is probably why the writer deliberately went with a different adjective that serves the same purpose. Why do the same-old same-old? We'll remember the term "jostling market" because it sounds new and strange. – Andrew Nov 14 '17 at 21:39
  • I would add that while a "jostling market" is positive, it also sounds like a place where there are so many people moving around, you're likely to catch an elbow in the ribs if you aren't careful. – Andrew Nov 14 '17 at 21:41

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