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bubble

[buhb-uh l]
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noun
  1. a nearly spherical body of gas contained in a liquid.
  2. a small globule of gas in a thin liquid envelope.
  3. a globule of air or gas, or a globular vacuum, contained in a solid.
  4. anything that lacks firmness, substance, or permanence; an illusion or delusion.
  5. an inflated speculation, especially if fraudulent: The real-estate bubble ruined many investors.
  6. the act or sound of bubbling.
  7. 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.
  8. a domelike structure, usually of inflated plastic, used to enclose a swimming pool, tennis court, etc.
  9. Informal. a protected, exempt, or unique area, industry, etc.: The oasis is a bubble of green in the middle of the desert.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
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verb (used without object), bub·bled, bub·bling.
  1. to form, produce, or release bubbles; effervesce.
  2. to flow or spout with a gurgling noise; gurgle.
  3. to boil: The tea bubbled in the pot.
  4. to speak, move, issue forth, or exist in a lively, sparkling manner; exude cheer: The play bubbled with songs and dances.
  5. to seethe or stir, as with excitement: His mind bubbles with plans and schemes.
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verb (used with object), bub·bled, bub·bling.
  1. to cause to bubble; make bubbles in.
  2. Archaic. to cheat; deceive; swindle.
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Verb Phrases
  1. bubble over, to become lively: The last time I saw her she was bubbling over with enthusiasm.
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Origin of bubble

1350–1400; Middle English bobel (noun); cognate with Middle Dutch bobbel, Middle Low German bubbele, Sw bubbla
Related formsbub·ble·less, adjectivebub·ble·like, adjectivebub·bling·ly, adverb
Can be confusedbabble Babel bauble bubble
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

dropletballoonfoamblobfrothfestergurglechurnseepsmolderburblesparkleeruptseethesimmerpercolatetricklestirboilgush

Examples from the Web for bubble

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The crest is a bubble, and really the effect produced by it is most ludicrous.

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

  • The captain's triumphant exuberance continued to bubble over.

    Cap'n Dan's Daughter

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • His mother listened for the simmer and bubble of the water on the fire.

  • The wild justice of this idea made the blood to bubble in his ears.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • Life itself is a bubble and a skepticism, and a sleep within a sleep.

    Essays, Second Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson


British Dictionary definitions for bubble

bubble

noun
  1. a thin film of liquid forming a hollow globule around air or a gasa soap bubble
  2. a small globule of air or a gas in a liquid or a solid, as in carbonated drinks, glass, etc
  3. the sound made by a bubbling liquid
  4. something lacking substance, stability, or seriousness
  5. an unreliable scheme or enterprise
  6. a dome, esp a transparent glass or plastic one
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verb
  1. to form or cause to form bubbles
  2. (intr) to move or flow with a gurgling sound
  3. (intr; often foll by over) to overflow (with excitement, anger, etc)
  4. (intr) Scot to snivel; blubber
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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

Word Origin and History for bubble

n.

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."

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v.

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

bubble in Culture

bubble

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.

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