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From Middle English bunsen (to beat, thump), perhaps imitative. Compare Low German bunsen (to beat), Dutch bonzen (to thump, knock, throb), and akin to bonken (to bang, smash), and possibly English bang.


  • enPR: bouns, IPA(key): /baʊns/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aʊns


A bouncing Wikipedia logo

bounce (third-person singular simple present bounces, present participle bouncing, simple past and past participle bounced)

  1. (intransitive) To change the direction of motion after hitting an obstacle.
    Synonyms: bounce back, rebound
    The tennis ball bounced off the wall before coming to rest in the ditch.
  2. (intransitive) To move quickly up and then down (or vice versa), once or repeatedly.
    Synonym: bob
    He bounces nervously on his chair.
    • 2012 May 13, Alistair Magowan, “Sunderland 0-1 Man Utd”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      The Black Cats contributed to their own downfall for the only goal when Titus Bramble, making his first appearance since Boxing Day, and Michael Turner, let Phil Jones' cross bounce across the six-yard box as Rooney tucked in at the back post.
  3. (transitive) To cause to move quickly up and down, or back and forth, once or repeatedly.
    He bounced the child on his knee.
    The children were bouncing a ball against a wall.
  4. (transitive, colloquial) To suggest or introduce (an idea, etc.) to (off or by) someone, in order to gain feedback.
    I'm meeting Bob later to bounce some ideas off him about the new product range.
  5. (intransitive) To leap or spring suddenly or unceremoniously; to bound.
    She bounced happily into the room.
  6. To move rapidly (between).
    • 2017 July 30, Ali Barthwell, “Ice and fire finally meet in a front-loaded episode of Game Of Thrones (newbies)”, in The Onion AV Club[2]:
      “The Queen’s Justice” had some fantastic moments of wit and heart but the structure and pacing didn’t do it any favors. The first section of the episode mostly bounced between Jon Snow’s arrival at Dragonstone and Cersei Lannister burning through her enemies and giving nary a fuck.
  7. (intransitive, informal, of a cheque/check) To be refused by a bank because it is drawn on insufficient funds.
    We can’t accept further checks from you, as your last one bounced.
  8. (transitive, informal) To fail to cover (have sufficient funds for) (a draft presented against one's account).
    He tends to bounce a check or two toward the end of each month, before his payday.
  9. (intransitive, slang) To leave.
    Let’s wrap this up, I gotta bounce.
    • 2006, Noire [pseudonym], Thug-A-Licious: An Urban Erotic Tale, New York, N.Y.: One World/Ballantine Books, page 64:
      I was definitely looking forward to getting me some more of Yasmere in the future, so I took a quick second to give her a last little bit of love before I bounced.
    • 2023, Nathan Bryon, Tom Melia, directed by Raine Allen-Miller, Rye Lane, spoken by Nathan (Simon Manyonda):
      All right, look, don't prang out. They had this paint-party-brunch thing. But I only stayed for 45 minutes, painted a tiny bit of a door, ate half an almond croissant and bounced.
  10. (US, slang, dated) To eject violently, as from a room; to discharge unceremoniously, as from employment.
    • 1946, Yachting, volume 80, page 46:
      Nobody took umbrage and bounced me out of the Union for being a pro.
  11. (intransitive, slang, African-American Vernacular, sometimes followed by with) To have sexual intercourse.
    Synonyms: bang, do it, have sex; see also Thesaurus:copulate
  12. (transitive, air combat) To attack unexpectedly.
    The squadron was bounced north of the town.
  13. (intransitive, electronics) To turn power off and back on; to reset.
    See if it helps to bounce the router.
  14. (transitive, intransitive, Internet, of an e-mail message) To return undelivered.
    What’s your new email address? The old one bounces.
    The girl in the bar told me her address was, but my mail to that address was bounced back by the server.
  15. (intransitive, aviation) To land hard and lift off again due to excess momentum.
    The student pilot bounced several times during his landing.
  16. (intransitive, skydiving) To land hard at unsurvivable velocity with fatal results.
    After the mid-air collision, his rig failed and he bounced.
  17. (transitive, sound recording) To mix (two or more tracks of a multi-track audio tape recording) and record the result onto a single track, in order to free up tracks for further material to be added.
    Bounce tracks two and three to track four, then record the cowbell on track two.
  18. (slang, archaic) To bully; to scold.
  19. (slang, archaic) To boast; to bluster.
  20. (archaic) To strike or thump, so as to rebound, or to make a sudden noise; to knock loudly.
  21. (politics, informal) An increase in popularity.

Derived terms[edit]



bounce (countable and uncountable, plural bounces)

  1. A change of direction of motion after hitting the ground or an obstacle.
    Synonym: rebound
    • 2012 June 9, Owen Phillips, “Euro 2012: Netherlands 0-1 Denmark”, in BBC Sport:
      Krohn-Dehli took advantage of a lucky bounce of the ball after a battling run on the left flank by Simon Poulsen, dummied two defenders and shot low through goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg's legs after 24 minutes.
  2. A movement up and then down (or vice versa), once or repeatedly.
    Synonyms: bob, (repeated) bobbing, (repeated) bouncing
  3. (Internet) An email that returns to the sender because of a delivery failure.
  4. The sack, dismissal.
    • 2007, Annabelle Gurwitch, Fired!: Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized, and Dismissed, page 243:
      Someone more clever than I said, "It's not the bounce that counts, it's the bounce back. "
    • 2014, Lisa See, China Dolls:
      Customers said I was a hoot; management gave me the bounce.
    • 2018, Harry Stephen Keeler, The Portrait of Jirjohn Cobb, page 241:
      I was no longer with the Oakhaven Hospital when I decided to come out here to the island; they'd fired me when they traced a long-distance call I'd made to San Francisco, under the director's name, to a man the papers had said got pinched out there, under suspicion of having lifted a poke with 10 grand in it—but later released—a man named Andy Glover. I thought sure he was a certain lug who'd been in stir with me, and thought to make a touch—however, skip it!—the point is that it was the wrong Andy Glover!—the call got traced to the phone in the hospital urinal room—and I got the bounce.
  5. A bang, boom.
  6. (archaic) A drink based on brandy.W
    • 1870 May, “Irish Life”, in The Saint Pauls Magazine, volume VI, London: Strahan & Co., publishers, 56, Ludgate Hill, →OCLC, page 203:
      A prologue of cherry bounce,—brandy,—preceded the entertainment, which was enlivened by hob-nobs and joyous toasts.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 6, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      He had one hand on the bounce bottle—and he'd never let go of that since he got back to the table—but he had a handkerchief in the other and was swabbing his deadlights with it.
  7. (archaic) A heavy, sudden, and often noisy, blow or thump.
    • 1685, John Dryden, The Despairing Lover:
      The bounce burst ope the door.
  8. (archaic) Bluster; brag; untruthful boasting; audacious exaggeration; an impudent lie; a bouncer.
    • 1827, Thomas De Quincey, On Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts:
      And, in fact, the whole story is a bounce of his own. For, in a most abusive letter which he wrote “to a learned person,” (meaning Wallis the mathematician,) he gives quite another account of the matter
  9. Scyliorhinus canicula, a European dogfish.
    Synonyms: houndfish, morgay, small-spotted catshark
  10. (uncountable) A genre of hip-hop music of New Orleans, characterized by often lewd call-and-response chants.
  11. (slang, African-American Vernacular, uncountable) Drugs.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:recreational drug
  12. (slang, African-American Vernacular, uncountable) Swagger.
  13. (slang, African-American Vernacular, uncountable) A good beat in music.
  14. (slang, African-American Vernacular, uncountable) A talent for leaping.
    Synonyms: ups, mad ups
    Them pro-ballers got bounce!

Derived terms[edit]


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