Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[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.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for bilges
Historical Examples
  • But at times they were objectionable, especially when the gin was awash in the bilges.

    The Flying Bo'sun

    Arthur Mason
  • If he could pump from the bilges this coming up would be unnecessary.

    On Yachts and Yacht Handling Thomas Fleming Day
  • Meantime, red and white lead paint was being applied in the bilges of the vessel.

  • She looked bluff and heavy in the bows and her bilges turned hard, but she walked over the water, and don't you forget it.

    Plain Mary Smith Henry Wallace Phillips
  • I looked at the gauge-glasses on the boilers, peered into the bilges, and found the fireman at his post in the stokehold.

    Aliens William McFee
  • The inner skin of the gas-tanks comes down to within a foot or two of my head and turns over just short of the turn of the bilges.

    With The Night Mail Rudyard Kipling
  • An' when the brotherhood was pea-green with seasickness I goes down into the bilges with a big auger an' scuttles the ship.

    Captain Scraggs Peter B. Kyne
  • As she swung with the smooth undulations, blocks clattered, booms groaned, and the water in her bilges swirled noisily to and fro.

    The Coast of Adventure Harold Bindloss
  • Boilers, fires banked in the donkey-boilers over weekend, bilges, sea-cocks all in order; I am at liberty to enjoy my day of rest.

    An Ocean Tramp William McFee
  • The bilge-water reeked and rotted in the bilges, filling the whole ship with its indescribable stench.

    On the Spanish Main John Masefield
British Dictionary definitions for bilges


(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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for bilges



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
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for bilges



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.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for bilges

Word Value for bilges

Scrabble Words With Friends