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[buhb-uh l] /ˈbʌb əl/
a nearly spherical body of gas contained in a liquid.
a small globule of gas in a thin liquid envelope.
a globule of air or gas, or a globular vacuum, contained in a solid.
anything that lacks firmness, substance, or permanence; an illusion or delusion.
an inflated speculation, especially if fraudulent:
The real-estate bubble ruined many investors.
the act or sound of bubbling.
a spherical or nearly spherical canopy or shelter; dome:
The bombing plane bristled with machine-gun bubbles. A network of radar bubbles stretches across northern Canada.
a domelike structure, usually of inflated plastic, used to enclose a swimming pool, tennis court, etc.
Informal. a protected, exempt, or unique area, industry, etc.:
The oasis is a bubble of green in the middle of the desert.
an area that can be defended, protected, patrolled, etc., or that comes under one's jurisdiction:
The carrier fleet's bubble includes the Hawaiian Islands.
a sudden, small, temporary change or divergence from a trend:
In May there was a bubble in car sales, with three percent more being sold than last year.
verb (used without object), bubbled, bubbling.
to form, produce, or release bubbles; effervesce.
to flow or spout with a gurgling noise; gurgle.
to boil:
The tea bubbled in the pot.
to speak, move, issue forth, or exist in a lively, sparkling manner; exude cheer:
The play bubbled with songs and dances.
to seethe or stir, as with excitement:
His mind bubbles with plans and schemes.
verb (used with object), bubbled, bubbling.
to cause to bubble; make bubbles in.
Archaic. to cheat; deceive; swindle.
Verb phrases
bubble over, to become lively:
The last time I saw her she was bubbling over with enthusiasm.
Origin of bubble
1350-1400; Middle English bobel (noun); cognate with Middle Dutch bobbel, Middle Low German bubbele, Sw bubbla
Related forms
bubbleless, adjective
bubblelike, adjective
bubblingly, adverb
Can be confused
babble, Babel, bauble, bubble. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for bubble
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She laughed that low laugh of hers that was like the bubble of a spring.

    The House of a Thousand Candles Meredith Nicholson
  • It was rounded on top, and it could easily be the dome of a bubble.

    All Day September Roger Kuykendall
  • So she pricks the boy's bubble, and points him to the one thing needful—God in the soul.

    William Lloyd Garrison Archibald H. Grimke
  • If you blast a hole in the bubble you'll destroy its energy balance.

    The Sky Trap Frank Belknap Long
  • When he comes out into the normal atmosphere the bubble is caught and remains.

    The Modern Railroad Edward Hungerford
British Dictionary definitions for bubble


a thin film of liquid forming a hollow globule around air or a gas: a soap bubble
a small globule of air or a gas in a liquid or a solid, as in carbonated drinks, glass, etc
the sound made by a bubbling liquid
something lacking substance, stability, or seriousness
an unreliable scheme or enterprise
a dome, esp a transparent glass or plastic one
to form or cause to form bubbles
(intransitive) to move or flow with a gurgling sound
(intransitive) ; often foll by over. to overflow (with excitement, anger, etc)
(intransitive) (Scot) to snivel; blubber
See also bubble under
Word Origin
C14: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Swedish bubbla, Danish boble, Dutch bobbel, all of imitative 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
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Word Origin and History for bubble

early 14c., perhaps from Middle Dutch bobbel (n.) and/or Middle Low German bubbeln (v.), all probably of echoic origin. Bubble bath first recorded 1949. Of financial schemes originally in South Sea Bubble (1590s), on notion of "fragile and insubstantial."


mid-15c., perhaps from bubble (n.) and/or from Middle Low German bubbeln (v.), probably of echoic origin. Related: Bubbled; bubbling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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bubble in Culture

bubble definition

A period of wild speculation in which the price of a commodity or stock or an entire market is inflated far beyond its real value. Bubbles are said to “burst” when a general awareness of the folly emerges and the price drops.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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