• synonyms


See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun Radar.
  1. the effect on a radarscope of the fluctuation of a radar echo because of alternating interference and reinforcement of the reflected waves.

Origin of bobbing


  1. a short, jerky motion: a bob of the head.
verb (used with object), bobbed, bob·bing.
  1. to move quickly down and up: to bob the head.
  2. to indicate with such a motion: to bob a greeting.
verb (used without object), bobbed, bob·bing.
  1. to make a jerky motion with the head or body.
  2. to move about with jerky, usually rising and falling motions: The ball bobbed upon the waves.
Verb Phrases
  1. bob up, to emerge or appear, especially unexpectedly: A familiar face bobbed up in the crowd.

Origin of bob1

First recorded in 1400–50, bob is from the late Middle English word bobben. See bob2


  1. a style of short haircut for women and children.
  2. a docked horse's tail.
  3. a dangling or terminal object, as the weight on a pendulum or a plumb line.
  4. a short, simple line in a verse or song, especially a short refrain or coda.
  5. Angling.
    1. a knot of worms, rags, etc., on a string.
    2. a float for a fishing line.
  6. a bobsled or bob skate.
  7. Scot. a bunch, cluster, or wad, especially a small bouquet of flowers.
  8. Obsolete. walking beam.
verb (used with object), bobbed, bob·bing.
  1. to cut short; dock: They bobbed their hair to be in style.
verb (used without object), bobbed, bob·bing.
  1. to try to snatch floating or dangling objects with the teeth: to bob for apples.
  2. Angling. to fish with a bob.

Origin of bob2

1300–50; Middle English bobbe (noun) spray, cluster, bunch (of leaves, flowers, fruit, etc.); of uncertain origin


  1. a tap; light blow.
  2. a polishing wheel of leather, felt, or the like.
verb (used with object), bobbed, bob·bing.
  1. to tap; strike lightly.

Origin of bob3

1350–1400; Middle English bobben to strike, beat, perhaps imitative See bop2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bobbing

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He found a small, bobbing speck beyond a far-away hillcrest.

    Pariah Planet

    Murray Leinster

  • Along the lane in the direction of the village a fiery spark was bobbing.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • There, where the music was playing and the Japanese lanterns were bobbing, he said it to her.

    The Wall Street Girl

    Frederick Orin Bartlett

  • All this time, I, in my confusion, was bobbing and murmuring pledges of service.

    The O'Ruddy

    Stephen Crane

  • The audience, watching the bobbing purse, hadn't realized it as yet.

    Sense from Thought Divide

    Mark Irvin Clifton

British Dictionary definitions for bobbing


  1. Bob's your uncle slang everything is or will turn out all right

Word Origin

C19: perhaps from pet form of Robert


verb bobs, bobbing or bobbed
  1. to move or cause to move up and down repeatedly, as while floating in water
  2. to move or cause to move with a short abrupt movement, as of the head
  3. to make (a bow or curtsy)the little girl bobbed before the visitor
  4. (intr usually foll by up) to appear or emerge suddenly
  5. (intr; foll by under, below, etc) to disappear suddenly, as beneath a surface
  6. (intr usually foll by for) to attempt to get hold (of a floating or hanging object, esp an apple) in the teeth as a game
  1. a short abrupt movement, as of the head
  2. a quick curtsy or bow
  3. bell-ringing a particular set of changes
  4. angling
    1. short for bobfloat
    2. the topmost fly on a cast of three, often fished bobbing at the surface
    3. this position on a wet-fly cast

Word Origin

C14: of uncertain origin


  1. a hairstyle for women and children in which the hair is cut short evenly all round the head
  2. a dangling or hanging object, such as the weight on a pendulum or on a plumb line
  3. a polishing disc on a rotating spindle. It is usually made of felt, leather, etc, impregnated with an abrasive material
  4. short for bob skate, bobsleigh
  5. a runner or pair of runners on a bobsled
  6. angling a small knot of worms, maggots, etc, used as bait
  7. a very short line of verse at the end of a stanza or preceding a rhyming quatrain (the wheel) at the end of a stanza
  8. a refrain or burden with such a short line or lines
  9. a docked tail, esp of a horse
  10. British dialect a hanging cluster, as of flowers or ribbons
verb bobs, bobbing or bobbed
  1. (tr) to cut (the hair) in a bob
  2. (tr) to cut short (something, esp the tail of an animal); dock or crop
  3. (intr) to ride on a bobsled

Word Origin

C14 bobbe bunch of flowers, perhaps of Celtic origin


verb bobs, bobbing or bobbed
  1. to tap or cause to tap or knock lightly (against)
  1. a light knock; tap

Word Origin

C13 bobben to rap, beat; see bop ²


noun plural bob
  1. British (formerly) an informal word for a shilling (def. 1)

Word Origin

C19: of unknown origin
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

Word Origin and History for bobbing



"move with a short, jerking motion," late 14c., probably connected to Middle English bobben "to strike, beat" (late 13c.), perhaps of echoic origin. Another early sense was "to make a fool of, cheat" (early 14c.). Related: Bobbed; bobbing. The sense in bobbing for apples (or cherries) recorded by 1799.



"short hair," 1680s, attested 1570s in sense of "a horse's tail cut short," from earlier bobbe "cluster" (as of leaves), mid-14c., a northern word, perhaps of Celtic origin (cf. Irish baban "tassel, cluster," Gaelic babag). Used over the years in various senses connected by the notion of "round, hanging mass," e.g. "weight at the end of a line" (1650s). The hair sense was revived with a shift in women's styles early 20c. (verb 1918, noun 1920). Related words include bobby pin, bobby sox, bobsled, bobcat.



"act of bobbing," 1540s, from bob (v.1). As a slang word for "shilling" it is attested from 1789, but the signification is unknown.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper