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[bilj] /bɪldʒ/
  1. either of the rounded areas that form the transition between the bottom and the sides on the exterior of a hull.
  2. Also, bilges. (in a hull with a double bottom) an enclosed area between frames at each side of the floors, where seepage collects.
  3. Also called bilge well. a well into which seepage drains to be pumped away.
  4. Also called bilge water. seepage accumulated in bilges.
Slang. bilge water (def 2).
the widest circumference or belly of a cask.
verb (used without object), bilged, bilging.
  1. to leak in the bilge.
  2. (of white paint) to turn yellow.
to bulge or swell out.
verb (used with object), bilged, bilging.
Nautical. to damage (a hull bottom) so as to create an entry for seawater.
Origin of bilge
First recorded in 1505-15; perhaps variant of bulge Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for bilge
Historical Examples
  • Not that I was one who craved for wrack and bilge at my nose all the time.

    John Splendid Neil Munro
  • Mayo trod carefully down the bilge and clasped the mate's hand.

    Blow The Man Down Holman Day
  • Well, he's dead now, he is—as dead as bilge; and who's to sail this ship, I don't see.

    Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson
  • “There are worse smells than bilge water,” replied the captain.

    Peter Simple Frederick Marryat
  • The arrangement for baling out the bilge water is extremely laborious.

    Southern Arabia Theodore Bent
  • In the place where it can be used when most wanted—the bilge.

    On Yachts and Yacht Handling Thomas Fleming Day
  • This not only is liable to bilge her, but makes it far more difficult to get her off.

    On Yachts and Yacht Handling Thomas Fleming Day
  • She was 26' long, 9' deep, and fitted with centre and bilge keels.

  • One pump is no longer quite enough to keep the water in the bilge.

    The Last of the Flatboats George Cary Eggleston
  • Your gas is in the bottom of the boat, along with the bilge water.

    The Shadow Passes Roy J. Snell
British Dictionary definitions for bilge


(nautical) the parts of a vessel's hull where the vertical sides curve inwards to form the bottom
(often pl) the parts of a vessel between the lowermost floorboards and the bottom
Also called bilge water. the dirty water that collects in a vessel's bilge
(informal) silly rubbish; nonsense
the widest part of the belly of a barrel or cask
(intransitive) (nautical) (of a vessel) to take in water at the bilge
(transitive) (nautical) to damage (a vessel) in the bilge, causing it to leak
Derived Forms
bilgy, adjective
Word Origin
C16: probably a variant of bulge
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bilge

1510s, "lowest internal part of a ship," also used of the foulness which collects there; variant of bulge "ship's hull," also "leather bag," from Old North French boulge "leather sack," from Late Latin bulga "leather sack," apparently from Gaulish bulga (see budget (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for bilge



Nonsense; worthless and vain matter; tripe, blah (1900s+)


(also bilge out) To fail or expel a student (1900+ College students)

[short for bilge-water]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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