• synonyms


  1. of or relating to a symphony orchestra specializing in popular or light classical music: Thursday is pops night on the concert series.
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  1. (often initial capital letter) (used with a singular verb) a symphony orchestra specializing in popular and light classical music: When you're in Boston be sure to hear the Pops.
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Origin of pops

First recorded in 1955–60; see origin at pop2


verb (used without object), popped, pop·ping.
  1. to make a short, quick, explosive sound: The cork popped.
  2. to burst open with such a sound, as chestnuts or corn in roasting.
  3. to come or go quickly, suddenly, or unexpectedly: She popped into the kitchen to check the stove.
  4. to shoot with a firearm: to pop at a mark.
  5. to protrude from the sockets: The news made her eyes pop.
  6. Baseball.
    1. to hit a pop fly (often followed by up).
    2. to pop out.
  7. Informal. to be bright or prominent, especially as against something less distinctive: I love how the colors pop against the neutral walls.
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verb (used with object), popped, pop·ping.
  1. to cause to make a sudden, explosive sound.
  2. to cause to burst open with such a sound.
  3. to open suddenly or violently: to pop the hood on a car; to pop the tab on a beer can.
  4. to put or thrust quickly, suddenly, or unexpectedly: He popped the muffins into the oven.
  5. Informal. to cause to fire; discharge: He popped his rifle at the bird.
  6. to shoot (usually followed by at, off, etc.): He popped off bottles with a slingshot.
  7. British Slang. to pawn.
  8. Informal.
    1. to take or swallow (pills), especially in excess or habitually; take orally in a compulsive or addictive way: Popping all those pills will land him in the hospital.
    2. to eat in a continual or thoughtless manner, as snack foods: popping peanuts at the movies.
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  1. a short, quick, explosive sound.
  2. a popping.
  3. a shot with a firearm.
  4. Informal. soda pop.
  5. a drink or portion of an alcoholic beverage, as a drink of whiskey or a glass of beer: We had a couple of pops on the way home.
  6. Baseball. pop fly.
  7. Informal. a bright or prominent burst of something: Citrus can add a pop of flavor.
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  1. with an explosive sound: The balloon went pop.
  2. quickly, suddenly, or unexpectedly: Pop, the door flew open!
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  1. Informal. unexpected; without prior warning or announcement: The teacher gave us a pop quiz.
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Verb Phrases
  1. pop for, Slang. to pay or buy for oneself or another, especially as a gift or treat; spring for: I'll pop for the first round of drinks.
  2. pop off, Informal.
    1. to die, especially suddenly.
    2. to depart, especially abruptly.
    3. to express oneself volubly or excitedly and sometimes irately or indiscreetly: He popped off about the injustice of the verdict.
  3. pop out, Baseball. to be put out by hitting a pop fly caught on the fly by a player on the opposing team.
  4. pop up, Baseball. to hit a pop fly.
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  1. a pop, Slang. each; apiece: five orchids at $30 a pop.
  2. pop in, Informal. to visit briefly and unexpectedly; stop in; drop by: Maybe we'll pop in after the movie.
  3. pop the question, Informal. to propose marriage: They dated for two years before he popped the question.
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Origin of pop1

1375–1425; late Middle English (noun) poppe a blow; (v.) poppen to strike; of expressive orig.


Regional variation note

19. See soda pop.


  1. of or relating to popular songs: pop music; pop singers.
  2. of or relating to pop art.
  3. reflecting or aimed at the tastes of the general masses of people: pop culture; pop novels.
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  1. popular music: It's the first time she's sung pop.
  2. pop art.
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Origin of pop2

First recorded in 1860–65; shortening of popular


noun Informal.
  1. father.
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Origin of pop3

First recorded in 1820–30; short form of poppa


  1. a frozen ice or ice-cream confection on a stick.
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Origin of pop4

probably shortening of Popsicle


[hwahyt-muh n, wahyt-]
  1. PaulPops, 1891–1967, U.S. orchestra conductor.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for pops

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He's been satisfying every whim of curiosity that pops into his mind.

    The Big Tomorrow

    Paul Lohrman

  • If it weren't for men like Pops, they'd never've made their fortune.

    Death of a Spaceman

    Walter M. Miller

  • What kind of essence does a young man like when he pops the question?

    The New Pun Book

    Thomas A. Brown and Thomas Joseph Carey

  • It is generally agreed that the one for whom the first that pops is named, loves.

    The Book of Hallowe'en

    Ruth Edna Kelley

  • Hush, speak low, and as if we were talking about pictures and Monday Pops.

    Witness to the Deed

    George Manville Fenn

British Dictionary definitions for pops


abbreviation for
  1. point of presence: a device that enables access to the internet
  2. internet post office protocol: a protocol which brings e-mail to and from a mail server
  3. Post Office Preferred (size of envelopes, etc)
  4. persistent organic pollutant
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verb pops, popping or popped
  1. to make or cause to make a light sharp explosive sound
  2. to burst open or cause to burst open with such a sound
  3. (intr; often foll by in, out, etc) informal to come (to) or go (from) rapidly or suddenly; to pay a brief or unexpected visit (to)
  4. (intr) (esp of the eyes) to protrudeher eyes popped with amazement
  5. to shoot or fire at (a target) with a firearm
  6. (tr) to place or put with a sudden movementshe popped some tablets into her mouth
  7. (tr) informal to pawnhe popped his watch yesterday
  8. (tr) slang to take (a drug) in pill form or as an injectionpill popping
  9. pop one's clogs See clog 1 (def. 9)
  10. pop the question informal to propose marriage
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  1. a light sharp explosive sound; crack
  2. informal a flavoured nonalcoholic carbonated beverage
  3. informal a try; attempthave a pop at goal
  4. informal an instance of criticismTownsend has had a pop at modern bands
  5. a pop informal each30 million shares at 7 dollars a pop
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  1. with a popping sound
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  1. an exclamation denoting a sharp explosive sound
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See also pop off, pop-up

Word Origin

C14: of imitative origin


    1. music of general appeal, esp among young people, that originated as a distinctive genre in the 1950s. It is generally characterized by a strong rhythmic element and the use of electrical amplification
    2. (as modifier)pop music; a pop record; a pop group
  1. informal a piece of popular or light classical music
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  1. informal short for popular
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  1. an informal word for father
  2. informal a name used in addressing an old or middle-aged man
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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 pops



"a hit with an explosive sound," c.1400, of imitative origin. Meaning "flavored carbonated beverage" is from 1812.

A new manufactory of a nectar, between soda-water and ginger-beer, and called pop, because 'pop goes the cork' when it is drawn. [Southey, letter, 1812]

Sense of "ice cream on a stick" is from 1923 (see popsicle). Meaning "the (brief) time of a 'pop'" is from 1530s. Pop goes the weasel, a country dance, was popular 1850s in school yards, with organ grinders, at court balls, etc.

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"having popular appeal," 1926, of individual songs from many genres; 1954 as a noun, as genre of its own; abbreviation of popular; earlier as a shortened form of popular concert (1862), and often in the plural form pops. Pop art first recorded 1957, said to have been in use conversationally among Independent group of artists from late 1954. Pop culture attested from 1959, short for popular culture (attested by 1846).

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"father," 1838, chiefly American English, shortened from papa (1680s), from French papa, from Old French, a children's word, similar to Latin pappa. Form poppa is recorded from 1897.

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"cause to make a short, quick sound," mid-15c.; intransitive sense "make a short, quick sound" is from 1570s; imitative. Of eyes, "to protrude" (as if about to burst), from 1670s. Sense of "to appear or put suddenly" (often with up, off, in, etc.) is recorded from mid-15c. Baseball sense of "to hit a ball high in the air" is from 1867. To pop the question is from 1725, specific sense of "propose marriage" is from 1826. Related: Popped; popping.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper