[ buh-loon ]
See synonyms for: balloonballooned on

  1. a bag made of thin rubber or other light material, usually brightly colored, inflated with air or with some lighter-than-air gas and used as a children's plaything or as a decoration.

  2. a bag made of a light material, as silk or plastic, filled with heated air or a gas lighter than air, designed to rise and float in the atmosphere and often having a car or gondola attached below for carrying passengers or scientific instruments.

  1. (in drawings, cartoons, etc.) a balloon-shaped outline enclosing words represented as issuing from the mouth of the speaker.

  2. an ornamental ball at the top of a pillar, pier, or the like.

  3. a large, globular wineglass.

  4. Chemistry Now Rare. a round-bottomed flask.

verb (used without object)
  1. to go up or ride in a balloon.

  2. to swell or puff out like a balloon.

  1. to multiply or increase at a rapid rate: Membership has ballooned beyond all expectations.

verb (used with object)
  1. to fill with air; inflate or distend (something) like a balloon.

  1. puffed out like a balloon: balloon sleeves.

  2. Finance. (of a loan, mortgage, or the like) having a payment at the end of the term that is much bigger than previous ones.

Origin of balloon

1570–80; <Upper Italian ballone, equivalent to ball(a) (<Langobardic; see ball1) + -one augmentative suffix; or <Middle French ballon<Upper Italian

Other words from balloon

  • bal·loon·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use balloon in a sentence

  • It is perhaps somewhat superfluous to say that the Russian Government at once adopted these balloons for war purposes.

    Asbestos | Robert H. Jones
  • At other times, free balloons are liberated, carrying sets of automatic registering instruments.

  • It was small, of twelve thousand cubic feet capacity, as compared with the seventy thousand foot balloons that do the racing.

    In Africa | John T. McCutcheon
  • The principle of the construction of balloons is, therefore, in perfect harmony with physical laws.

    Wonderful Balloon Ascents | Fulgence Marion
  • Buying bread balloons will be the big event of the day for kiddies.

    Bread Overhead | Fritz Reuter Leiber

British Dictionary definitions for balloon


/ (bəˈluːn) /

  1. an inflatable rubber bag of various sizes, shapes, and colours: usually used as a plaything or party decoration

  2. a large impermeable bag inflated with a lighter-than-air gas, designed to rise and float in the atmosphere. It may have a basket or gondola for carrying passengers, etc: See also barrage balloon, hot-air balloon

  1. a circular or elliptical figure containing the words or thoughts of a character in a cartoon

  2. British

    • a kick or stroke that propels a ball high into the air

    • (as modifier): a balloon shot

  3. chem a round-bottomed flask

  4. a large rounded brandy glass

  5. commerce

    • a large sum paid as an irregular instalment of a loan repayment

    • (as modifier): a balloon loan

  6. surgery

    • an inflatable plastic tube used for dilating obstructed blood vessels or parts of the alimentary canal

    • (as modifier): balloon angioplasty

  7. go down like a lead balloon informal to be completely unsuccessful or unpopular

  8. when the balloon goes up informal when the trouble or action begins

  1. (intr) to go up or fly in a balloon

  2. (intr) to increase or expand significantly and rapidly: losses ballooned to £278 million

  1. to inflate or be inflated; distend; swell: the wind ballooned the sails

  2. (tr) British to propel (a ball) high into the air

Origin of balloon

C16 (in the sense: ball, ball game): from Italian dialect ballone, from balla, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German balla ball 1

Derived forms of balloon

  • ballooning, noun
  • balloonist, noun
  • balloon-like, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with balloon


In addition to the idiom beginning with balloon

  • balloon goes up, the

also see:

  • go over (like a lead balloon)
  • trial balloon

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.