Origin of blubber

1250–1300; Middle English bluber bubble, bubbling water, entrails, whale oil; apparently imitative
Related formsblub·ber·er, nounblub·ber·ing·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for blubber

whale, sob, wail, swell, whimper, whine, fat, nettle, seethe, swollen, thick, weep, flab, flitch, blub

Examples from the Web for blubber

Contemporary Examples of blubber

  • Scott does not come off as a conventionally conceived gigglebox made of blubber.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Ladies’ Night

    Stanley Crouch

    March 29, 2009

Historical Examples of blubber

  • To grapple with this rigour one should have fed all one's life on blubber.

    The Frozen Pirate

    W. Clark Russell

  • Them chaps, whoever they are, have been killing seals and boiling the blubber.

    The Beach of Dreams

    H. De Vere Stacpoole

  • The skins were needed for boots, the flesh for dog food, and the blubber for oil.

    Left on the Labrador

    Dillon Wallace

  • So he winked, too, at his mother, and tried to blubber a "thank you."

  • Then he begins to blubber, and leak brine, and take on like a woman with a sick headache.


    Sewell Ford

British Dictionary definitions for blubber



to sob without restraint
to utter while sobbing
(tr) to make (the face) wet and swollen or disfigured by crying


a thick insulating layer of fatty tissue below the skin of aquatic mammals such as the whale: used by man as a source of oil
informal excessive and flabby body fat
the act or an instance of weeping without restraint
Australian an informal name for jellyfish


(often in combination) swollen or fleshyblubber-faced; blubber-lips
Derived Formsblubberer, noun

Word Origin for blubber

C12: perhaps from Low German blubbern to bubble, 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

Word Origin and History for blubber

late 14c., blober "a bubble, bubbling water; foaming waves," probably echoic of bubbling water. Original notion of "bubbling, foaming" survives in the figurative verbal meaning "to weep, cry" (c.1400). Meaning "whale fat" first attested 1660s; earlier it was used in reference to jellyfish (c.1600) and of whale oil (mid-15c.). As an adjective from 1660s.


late 14c., "to seethe, bubble," from blubber (n.). Meaning "to cry, to overflow with weeping" is from c.1400. Related: Blubbered; blubbering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

blubber in Science



The thick layer of fat between the skin and the muscle layers of whales and other marine mammals. It insulates the animal from heat loss and serves as a food reserve.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.