Origin of bump

First recorded in 1560–70; imitative
Related formsbump·ing·ly, adverbun·bumped, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bumping

Contemporary Examples of bumping

  • Bumping into migrants in the desert who are thirsty, hungry, and injured has opened his “whole humanitarian side.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    Arizona's White Supremacist Problem

    Terry Greene Sterling

    July 23, 2010

Historical Examples of bumping

  • Bumping along the trail into Datura, Aaron Stoltzfoos studied the land.

    Blind Man's Lantern

    Allen Kim Lang

  • "Bumping at Oxford," to use an aquatic term, why it was nothing!

  • I may at this point give a word of advice to a coxswain in a Bumping Race.


    Rudolf Chambers Lehmann

  • Bumping their nose into a tied lion that way—how'd they know?

  • Bumping him into the wall he bore down upon him growling in a voice obviously assumed and grossly piratical: "Sit there!"

    Ann Arbor Tales

    Karl Edwin Harriman

British Dictionary definitions for bumping



(when intr , usually foll by against or into) to knock or strike with a jolt
(intr often foll by along) to travel or proceed in jerks and jolts
(tr) to hurt by knockinghe bumped his head on the ceiling
(tr) to knock out of place; dislodgethe crash bumped him from his chair
(tr) British to throw (a child) into the air, one other child holding each limb, and let him down again to touch the ground
(in rowing races, esp at Oxford and Cambridge) to catch up with and touch (another boat that started a fixed distance ahead)
cricket to bowl (a ball) so that it bounces high on pitching or (of a ball) to bounce high when bowled
(intr) mainly US and Canadian to dance erotically by thrusting the pelvis forward (esp in the phrase bump and grind)
(tr) poker to raise (someone)
(tr) informal to exclude a ticket-holding passenger from a flight as a result of overbooking
(tr) informal to displace (someone or something) from a previously allocated positionthe story was bumped from the front page
bump uglies US slang to have sexual intercourse


an impact; knock; jolt; collision
a dull thud or other noise from an impact or collision
the shock of a blow or collision
a lump on the body caused by a blow
a protuberance, as on a road surface
any of the natural protuberances of the human skull, said by phrenologists to indicate underlying faculties and character
a rising current of air that gives an aircraft a severe upward jolt
(plural) the act of bumping a child. See sense 5
rowing the act of bumpingSee bumping race
bump ball cricket a ball that bounces into the air after being hit directly into the ground by the batsman

Word Origin for bump

C16: probably 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 bumping



1590s, "protuberance caused by a blow;" 1610s as "a dull, solid blow;" see bump (v.). The dancer's bump and grind attested from 1940.



1560s, "to bulge out;" 1610s, "to strike heavily," perhaps from Scandinavian, probably echoic, original sense was "hitting" then of "swelling from being hit." Also has a long association with obsolete bum "to make a booming noise," which perhaps influenced surviving senses such as bumper crop, for something full to the brim (see bumper). To bump into "meet" is from 1880s; to bump off "kill" is 1908 in underworld slang. Related: Bumped; bumping. Bumpsy (adj.) was old slang for "drunk" (1610s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with bumping


In addition to the idioms beginning with bump

  • bump into
  • bump off
  • bump up

also see:

  • goose pimples (bumps)
  • like a bump on a log
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.