bull pen

or bull·pen

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  1. Baseball.
    1. a place where relief pitchers warm up during a game.
    2. the relief pitchers on a team.
  2. Informal.
    1. a large cell or room, usually next to the courtroom, where prisoners are temporarily held.
    2. a large room in an office occupied by many employees.
  3. any temporary or crowded quarters, as sleeping quarters in a lumber camp.
  4. a pen for a bull or bulls.

Origin of bull pen

1800–10, Americanism for def 4; 1920–25 for def 1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for bullpen


  1. US informal a large cell where prisoners are confined together temporarily
  2. baseball a part of a baseball field where relief pitchers warm up
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 bullpen

also bull-pen, 1915, in the baseball sense, from bull (n.1) + pen (n.2); perhaps from earlier slang meaning "temporary holding cell for prisoners" (1809). Bullpen also was the name of a baseball-like game played in U.S. late 19c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper