About This Word

bounce back

[bouns bak]

What does bounce back mean?

Taken any L’s recently? Time to bounce back.

To bounce back is to recover quickly from sickness or a setback, like getting back into the game after a breakup. It’s also used for when an email gets returned because you have a bad address or as an error message in computer coding.

Occasionally ... bounce back can refer to how a large butt behaves when it is slapped.

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See how it's used

Where does bounce back come from?

Bounce back goes back way before everyone had Big Sean’s “Bounce Back” stuck in their heads.

A metaphorical expression based on the rebound of a ball, bounce back is recorded as early as 1934 in a Montana newspaper: “When a team hits bottom it usually bounces back.” Here, bounce back refers to a losing sports team tallying some wins again, which remains a common sense of the phrase. Another common sense is "recovering from an illness or injury," found at least by the 1950s.

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Tech nerds picked up bounce back in the early 1980s to refer to errors in computer code. This use goes back to 1982 in a Usenet post: “Any bad requests received could be bounced back with a simple comment about syntax.” This sense then spread to undeliverable emails.

Bounce back—in that earlier sense of being resilient in the face of a challenge—was prominently featured in hip-hop lyrics in the 2000s. Juvenile released a 2003 track, "Bounce Back," where he raps “Yeah I done fucked up, slipped and sniffed that coke / Started tweakin and broke into them people house next do’” before the hook “I’m about to bounce back b-bounce back.”

Hip-hop artist Big Sean also released a "Bounce Back" in 2016, which reached #6 on the Billboard charts.

"You measure the character of a person of how they bounce back, how they handle themselves after that,” Big Sean explained in Hot New Hip Hop. In the song, he uses bounce back not only to describe his strong character, but also what a woman’s butt does after he slaps it. For some reason, he left the second usage out of that interview.

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LeBron James notably referenced Big Sean's "Bounce Back" in a 2017 tweet when his Cavaliers were having an epic slump.

Who uses bounce back?

Bounce back is all over rap songs, medical discussions, relationship advice, and sports talk, where a team can display bouncebackability. A bounceback is an instance of bouncing back or the quality therein. When Psychology Today chipperly offers “6 Steps to Bounce Back from an Expired Relationship,” they want you swiping right by #6. If someone is advising you how to bounce back from a financial setback, pay attention to get that coin.

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For example

A real bad bitch can bounce back from any situation. 💅🏽

@indiemonet, June, 2018

The GOP will need “years” to bounce back after family separation policy

MSNBC (headline), June, 2018

Last night took an L, but tonight I bounce back / Wake up every morning, by the night, I count stacks / Knew that ass was real when I hit, it bounce back.

Big Sean, "Bounce Back" (song), 2016

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