1. a deep, cylindrical vessel, usually of metal, plastic, or wood, with a flat bottom and a semicircular bail, for collecting, carrying, or holding water, sand, fruit, etc.; pail.
  2. anything resembling or suggesting this.
  3. Machinery.
    1. any of the scoops attached to or forming the endless chain in certain types of conveyors or elevators.
    2. the scoop or clamshell of a steam shovel, power shovel, or dredge.
    3. a vane or blade of a waterwheel, paddle wheel, water turbine, or the like.
  4. (in a dam) a concave surface at the foot of a spillway for deflecting the downward flow of water.
  5. a bucketful: a bucket of sand.
  6. Basketball.
    1. Informal.field goal.
    2. the part of the keyhole extending from the foul line to the end line.
  7. bucket seat.
  8. Bowling. a leave of the two, four, five, and eight pins, or the three, five, six, and nine pins.
verb (used with object), buck·et·ed, buck·et·ing.
  1. to lift, carry, or handle in a bucket (often followed by up or out).
  2. Chiefly British. to ride (a horse) fast and without concern for tiring it.
  3. to handle (orders, transactions, etc.) in or as if in a bucket shop.
verb (used without object), buck·et·ed, buck·et·ing.
  1. Informal. to move or drive fast; hurry.
  1. drop in the bucket, a small, usually inadequate amount in relation to what is needed or requested: The grant for research was just a drop in the bucket.
  2. drop the bucket on, Australian Slang. to implicate, incriminate, or expose.
  3. kick the bucket, Slang. to die: His children were greedily waiting for him to kick the bucket.

Origin of bucket

1250–1300; Middle English buket < Anglo-French < Old English bucc (variant of būc vessel, belly; cognate with German Bauch) + Old French -et -et

Regional variation note

Though both bucket and pail are used throughout the entire U.S., pail has its greatest use in the Northern U.S., and bucket is more commonly used elsewhere, especially in the Midland and Southern U.S.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for bucket out

bucket out

  1. (tr) to empty out with or as if with a bucket


  1. an open-topped roughly cylindrical container; pail
  2. Also called: bucketful the amount a bucket will hold
  3. any of various bucket-like parts of a machine, such as the scoop on a mechanical shovel
  4. a cupped blade or bucket-like compartment on the outer circumference of a water wheel, paddle wheel, etc
  5. computing a unit of storage on a direct-access device from which data can be retrieved
  6. mainly US a turbine rotor blade
  7. Australian and NZ an ice cream container
  8. kick the bucket slang to die
verb -kets, -keting or -keted
  1. (tr) to carry in or put into a bucket
  2. (intr often foll by down) (of rain) to fall very heavilyit bucketed all day
  3. (intr often foll by along) mainly British to travel or drive fast
  4. (tr) mainly British to ride (a horse) hard without consideration
  5. (tr) Australian slang to criticize severely

Word Origin for bucket

C13: from Anglo-French buket, from Old English būc; compare Old High German būh belly, German Bauch belly
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 bucket out



mid-13c., from Anglo-French buquet "bucket, pail," from Old French buquet "bucket," which is from a Germanic source, or a diminutive of cognate Old English buc "pitcher, bulging vessel," originally "belly" (buckets were formerly of leather as well as wood), both from West Germanic *buh- (cf. Dutch buik, Old High German buh, German Bauch "belly"), from PIE *bhou-, variant of root *bheu- "to grow, swell" (see be).

Kick the bucket "to die" (1785) perhaps is from unrelated Old French buquet "balance," a beam from which slaughtered animals were hung; perhaps reinforced by the notion of suicide by hanging after standing on an upturned bucket (but Farmer calls attention to bucket "a Norfolk term for a pulley").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with bucket out


see drop in the bucket; kick the bucket; rain cats and dogs (buckets); weep buckets.

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