• synonyms


See more synonyms for bulk on Thesaurus.com
  1. magnitude in three dimensions: a ship of great bulk.
  2. the greater part; main mass or body: The bulk of the debt was paid.
  3. goods or cargo not in packages or boxes, usually transported in large volume, as grain, coal, or petroleum.
  4. fiber(def 9).
  5. (of paper, cardboard, yarn, etc.) thickness, especially in relation to weight.
  6. the body of a living creature.
  7. bulk mail.
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  1. being or traded in bulk: bulk grain.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to increase in size; expand; swell.
  2. to be of or give the appearance of great weight, size, or importance: The problem bulks large in his mind.
  3. (of paper, cardboard, yarn, etc.) to be of or to acquire a specific thickness, especially in relation to weight.
  4. to gather, form, or mix into a cohesive or uniform mass.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to swell, grow, or increase in weight or thickness.
  2. to gather, bring together, or mix.
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Verb Phrases
  1. bulk up, to increase the bulk of, especially by increasing the thickness of: Adding four chapters will bulk up the book.
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  1. in bulk,
    1. unpackaged: Fresh orange juice is shipped from Florida in bulk.
    2. in large quantities: Those who buy in bulk receive a discount.
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Origin of bulk

1400–50; late Middle English bolke heap, cargo, hold < Old Norse bulki cargo, ship's hold

Synonym study

1. See size1.

Pronunciation note

Bulk and bulge most often are pronounced with the vowel [uh] /ʌ/ of buck. In South Midland and Southern U.S. the [oo] /ʊ/ of book and bull commonly occurs among all speakers. Standard British speech has only [uh] /ʌ/. Both types exist in British regional speech, and both were brought to the colonies, where each came to predominate in a different area and was carried west by migration.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for bulking

emerge, hover, overshadow, mount, portend, brew, threaten, dominate, soar, fudge, inflate, overstate, embellish, augment, loom, develop, extend, broaden, magnify, lengthen

Examples from the Web for bulking

Contemporary Examples of bulking

Historical Examples of bulking

  • Ahead the northeast headland of the Isle of Sheppey was bulking large and near.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • She fell to the ground, toppling sidewise, and bulking large.

  • Two rows of hills, shadowy, bulking in the darkness, stretched ahead on either side and the canyon lay between.

  • We like to see our friend moving across the scene he describes, but we dont want to see him bulking large in his own landscape.

    The Joys of Being a Woman

    Winifred Kirkland

  • A considerable number of the company were now employed in curing or bulking the late catch of pilchards.

    Michael Penguyne

    William H. G. Kingston

British Dictionary definitions for bulking


  1. the expansion of excavated material to a volume greater than that of the excavation from which it came
  2. an increase in the volume of dry sand when its moisture content is increased
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  1. volume, size, or magnitude, esp when great
  2. the main partthe bulk of the work is repetitious
  3. a large body, esp of a personhe eased his bulk out of the chair
  4. the part of food which passes unabsorbed through the digestive systemhe eased his bulk out of the chair
  5. unpackaged cargo or goods
  6. a ship's cargo or hold
  7. printing
    1. the thickness of a number of sheets of paper or cardboard
    2. the thickness of a book excluding its covers
  8. (plural) copies of newspapers sold in bulk at a discounted price to hotels, airlines, etc which issue them free to their customers
  9. in bulk
    1. in large quantities
    2. (of a cargo, etc) unpackaged
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  1. to cohere or cause to cohere in a mass
  2. to place, hold, or transport (several cargoes of goods) in bulk
  3. bulk large to be or seem important or prominentthe problem bulked large in his mind
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Word Origin for bulk

C15: from Old Norse bulki cargo


The use of a plural noun after bulk was formerly considered incorrect, but is now acceptable
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 bulking



mid-15c., "a heap," earlier "ship's cargo" (mid-14c.), from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse bulki "a heap; ship's cargo," thus "goods loaded loose" (perhaps literally "rolled-up load"), from Proto-Germanic *bul-, from PIE root *bhel- (2) "to blow, inflate, swell" (see bole).

Meaning extended by confusion with obsolete bouk "belly" (from Old English buc "body, belly," from Proto-Germanic *bukaz; see bucket), which led to sense of "size," first attested mid-15c.

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"swell, become more massive," 1550s (usually with up), from bulk (n.). Related: Bulked; bulking.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with bulking


see in bulk.

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