Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search



From Middle English bosum, bosom, from Old English bōsm. Cognate with Dutch boezem, German Busen. All of these words are derived from Proto-Germanic *bōsmaz, itself from Proto-Indo-European *bʰewH- (to swell, bend, curve), whence also Albanian buzë (lip), Greek βυζί (vyzí, breast), Romanian buză (lip), Irish bus (lip), and Latin bucca (cheek).



bosom (plural bosoms)

  1. (anatomy, somewhat dated) The breast or chest of a human (or sometimes of another animal). [from 11thc.]
    • 1611, Bible, Authorized Version, Exodus IV:
      And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.
  2. The seat of one's inner thoughts, feelings etc.; one's secret feelings; desire. [from 13thc.]
    • 1844, William Makepeace Thackeray, The Luck of Barry Lyndon
      my poor dear duke [], in consequence of the excitement created in his august bosom by her frantic violence and grief, had a fit in which I very nigh lost him.
    • 1932, Maurice Baring, chapter 16, in Friday's Business:
      His uncle, a Cardinal, engages a Spanish youth of Moorish descent called Diego, an expert singer and player on the virginal, [] to cleanse his bosom of the perilous stuff, and cure him by the spell of his music.
  3. The protected interior or inner part of something; the area enclosed as by an embrace. [from 15thc.]
    • 1846, Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son
      … Mr Toodle … was refreshing himself with tea in the bosom of his family.
    • 1861, George Eliot, Silas Marner
      there might be seen in districts far away among the lanes, or deep in the bosom of the hills, certain pallid undersized men, who, by the side of the brawny country-folk, looked like the remnants of a disinherited race.
  4. The part of a dress etc. covering the chest; a neckline.
    • Bible, Exodus iv.6
      He put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.
    • 1897, Henry James, What Maisie Knew:
      She was always in a fearful hurry, and the lower the bosom was cut the more it was to be gathered she was wanted elsewhere.
  5. (in the plural) A woman's breasts. [from 20thc.]
    • 1915, Emerson Hough, The Purchase Price, chapterI:
      Serene, smiling, enigmatic, she faced him with no fear whatever showing in her dark eyes. [] She put back a truant curl from her forehead where it had sought egress to the world, and looked him full in the face now, drawing a deep breath which caused the round of her bosom to lift the lace at her throat.
    • 2003, Martin Kelner, The Guardian, 7 April:
      The prevailing look at Aintree was of a well-upholstered woman wearing an outfit about three sizes too small for her; trouser suits so tight you could not only tell if the lady had a coin in her pocket but see if it was heads or tails, and skimpy tops proclaiming proudly that bosoms are back—and this time it's personal.
  6. Any thing or place resembling the breast; a supporting surface; an inner recess; the interior.
  7. A depression round the eye of a millstone.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Knight to this entry?)




bosom (not comparable)

  1. In a very close relationship.
    bosom buddies


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


bosom (third-person singular simple present bosoms, present participle bosoming, simple past and past participle bosomed)

  1. To enclose or carry in the bosom; to keep with care; to take to heart; to cherish.
  2. To conceal; to hide from view; to embosom.
    • 1741, Alexander Pope, The New Dunciad: As it was Found in the Year 1741, Dublin: George Faulkner, 1742, Book IV, p 29, lines 291-292,[2]
      To happy Convents bosom’d deep in Vines,
      Where slumber Abbots, purple as their Wines;
    • 1818, Lucy Aikin, Memoirs of the Court of Queen Elizabeth[3]:
      Those whom you feared most are now bosoming themselves in the queen's grace; and though her highness signified displeasure in outward sort, yet did she like the marrow of your book.
    • 1901, Stewart Edward White, The Claim Jumpers[4]:
      Beyond were the pines, and a rugged road, flint-edged, full of dips and rises, turns and twists, hovering on edges, or bosoming itself in deep rock-strewn cuts.
  3. (intransitive) To belly; to billow, swell or bulge.
    • 1869, Allan Hume, “My first Nests of Bonelli’s Eagle,” in The Ibis, Series 2, Volume 5, p. 145,[5]
      Just above the recess the cliff bosomed out with a full swell for some two or three feet, effectually preventing any one’s looking down into the nest from above []
    • 1905, Alex Macdonald, In Search of El Dorado, London: T. Fisher Unwin, Part II, “The Five-Mile Rush,” p. 92,[6]
      What Stewart called a “langtailie coat” spread out behind him like streamers in a breeze, a “biled” collar had, in the same gentleman’s terse language, “burst its moorings” and projected in two miniature wings at the back of his ears, and a shirt that had once been white, bosomed out expansively through an open vest.
  4. (transitive) To belly; to cause to billow, swell or bulge.
    • 1822, James Hogg, The Three Perils of Man, London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown, Volume 3, Chapter 12, pp. 440-441,[7]
      I looked again, and though I was sensible it must be a delusion brought on by the stroke of his powerful rod, yet I did see the appearance of a glorious fleet of ships coming bounding along the surface of the firmament of air, while every mainsail was bosomed out like the side of a Highland mountain.
    • 1855, The Scald [pseudonym of George Smellie], “Sketches of a Voyage to Hudson’s Bay” in The Sea: Sketches of a Voyage to Hudson’s Bay, and Other Poems, London: Hope & Co., p. 45,[8]
      Thus one by one they mount, and spreading wide,
      The transverse wings extend on either side,
      And, lightly bosomed by the gentle gale,
      She seems a moving pyramid of ail.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for bosom in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)