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English Wikipedia has an article on:
A soap bubble.


Partly imitative, also influenced by burble. Compare Middle Dutch bobbe (bubble) > Dutch bubbel (bubble), Low German bubbel (bubble), Danish boble (bubble), Swedish bubbla (bubble). The word was first used in its economic sense in association with the collapse of the South Sea Company in 1720, based on the metaphor of an inflated soap bubble bursting.


  • IPA(key): /ˈbʌb.əl/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌbəl


bubble (plural bubbles)

  1. A spherically contained volume of air or other gas, especially one made from soapy liquid.
    Synonym: (obsolete) bull
    Antonym: antibubble
  2. A small spherical cavity in a solid material.
    bubbles in window glass, or in a lens
  3. (by extension) Anything resembling a hollow sphere.
  4. (figurative) Anything lacking firmness or solidity; a cheat or fraud; an empty project.
  5. (economics) A period of intense speculation in a market, causing prices to rise quickly to irrational levels as the metaphorical bubble expands, and then fall even more quickly as the bubble bursts.
    real estate bubble
    dot-com bubble
    • 2007, Elizabeth Grossman, High Tech Trash, Island Press, →ISBN, page 46:
      Thanks to the proliferation of semiconductor chips and cell phones—the number of U.S. cell phones grew from essentially zero in 1983 to nearly two hundred million by the end of 2004, and as of 2003 over one billion cell phones were in use worldwide, so by the time the high-tech bubble approached its bursting point in 2000 and 2001, coltan had become an extremely hot commodity.
  6. (figurative) The emotional and/or physical atmosphere in which the subject is immersed.
    Synonyms: circumstances, ambience
    Hyponym: filter bubble
    • 2011 January 23, Alistair Magowan, “Blackburn 2 - 0 West Brom”, in BBC[1]:
      Thomas, so often West Brom's most positive attacker down their left side and up against Salgado, twice almost burst the bubble of excitement around the ground but he had two efforts superbly saved by Robinson.
    • 2012 June 3, Nathan Rabin, “TV: Review: THE SIMPSONS (CLASSIC): “Mr. Plow” (season 4, episode 9; originally aired 11/19/1992)”, in The A.V. Club[2]:
      He’s wrapped up snugly in a cozy bubble of self-regard, talking for his own sake more than anyone else’s.
    • 2017 March 21, Michiko Kakutani, “‘The Death of Expertise’ Explores How Ignorance Became a Virtue”, in The New York Times[3], →ISSN:
      Citizens of all political persuasions (not to mention members of the Trump administration) can increasingly live in their own news media bubbles, consuming only views similar to their own.
    • 2020 August 27, Kevin Roose, “What if Facebook Is the Real ‘Silent Majority’?”, in New York Times[4]:
      Inside the right-wing Facebook bubble, President Trump’s response to Covid-19 has been strong and effective, Joe Biden is barely capable of forming sentences, and Black Lives Matter is a dangerous group of violent looters.
    • 2022 February 6, Benedict Brook, “Dark side of paradise: 'Sinister' cracks show in perfect suburb”, in NZ Herald[5]:
      "We know we're in a bubble," said one Villager interviewed for the film. "But it's a nice bubble".
  7. An officer's station in a prison dormitory, affording views on all sides.
    • 1998, District of Columbia Appropriations for 1998: Hearings:
      Later that day, the unit was staffed with only one officer, who was required to stay in the bubble.
  8. (obsolete) Someone who has been ‘bubbled’ or fooled; a dupe.
    • 1709, Matthew Prior, Cupid and Ganymede:
      Gany's a cheat, and I'm a bubble.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, Tom Jones, Folio Society, published 1979, page 15:
      For no woman, sure, will plead the passion of love for an excuse. This would be to own herself the mere tool and bubble of the man.
  9. A small, hollow, floating bead or globe, formerly used for testing the strength of spirits.
  10. The globule of air in the chamber of a spirit level.
  11. (Cockney rhyming slang) A laugh.
    Synonyms: giraffe, bubble bath
    Are you having a bubble?!
  12. (Cockney rhyming slang) A Greek.
    Synonym: bubble and squeak
  13. (computing, historical) Any of the small magnetized areas that make up bubble memory.
  14. (poker) The point in a poker tournament when the last player without a prize loses all their chips and leaves the game, leaving only players that are going to win prizes. (e.g., if the last remaining 9 players win prizes, then the point when the 10th player leaves the tournament)
    Many players tend to play timidly (not play many hands) around the bubble, to keep their chips and last longer in the game.
  15. A group of people who are in quarantine together.
    • 2020 April 7, “Covid 19 coronavirus: Police called after Mt Eden landlord tries to move into flat during lockdown”, in New Zealand Herald:
      "There was an empty room and this is my house," Mark Philip told the Herald. "Where am I supposed to go? Whose bubble am I supposed to infect?"
  16. Short for travel bubble.
  17. (television, slang) A bulb or lamp; the part of a lighting assembly that actually produces the light.
    • 2013, Gerald Millerson, Lighting for TV and Film, page 296:
      A bare lamp (bulb, globe, 'bubble') radiates light in all directions.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


bubble (third-person singular simple present bubbles, present participle bubbling, simple past and past participle bubbled)

  1. (intransitive) To produce bubbles, to rise up in bubbles (such as in foods cooking or liquids boiling).
    The laminate is bubbling.
  2. (intransitive, figurative) To churn or foment, as if wishing to rise to the surface.
    Rage bubbled inside him.
    • 1853, Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, Ruth:
      The blood bubbled up to her brain, and made such a sound there, as of boiling waters, that she did not hear the words which Mr. Bradshaw first spoke []
    • 2022 December 31, Sarah Andersen, “The Alt-Right Manipulated My Comic. Then A.I. Claimed It.”, in The New York Times[6]:
      With some technical improvement, I could see how the process of imitating my work would soon become fast and streamlined, and the many dark potentials bubbled to the forefront of my mind.
  3. (intransitive, figurative) To rise through a medium or system, similar to the way that bubbles rise in liquid.
    • 2002, David Flanagan, JavaScript: the definitive guide:
      The target of this event is the most deeply nested common ancestor of all changes that occurred in the document, and it bubbles up the document tree []
  4. (transitive, archaic) To cheat, delude.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, Tom Jones, Folio Society, published 1973, page 443:
      No, no, friend, I shall never be bubbled out of my religion in hopes only of keeping my place under another government []
    • 1711 June 12, Joseph Addison, The Spectator, number 89; republished in The Works of Joseph Addison, volume 1, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1842, page 142:
      He tells me with great passion that she has bubbled him out of his youth; that she drilled him on to five and fifty [years old], and that he verily believes she will drop him in his old age, if she can find her account in another.
    • 1759, Laurence Sterne, Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman:
      I need not tell your Worships, that this was done with so much cunning and artifice, —that the great Locke, who was seldom outwitted by false sounds, was nevertheless bubbled here.
  5. (intransitive, Scotland and Northern England) To cry, weep.
  6. (transitive) To pat a baby on the back so as to cause it to belch.
    • 1942, McCall’s, volume 69, page 94:
      Groggily her mind went back through the long hours to 10 P.M. She had fed Junior, bubbled him, diped him—according to plan.
    • 1957, Conrad Nicholson Hilton, Be My Guest, page 52:
      I walked him, pushed him, pulled him, and “bubbled” him, drawing the line at changing him, and found that the ability to bring actual happiness to another being’s face, even such a small red one, simply by walking into the room, made me feel ten feet tall.
    • 1958, David Mordecai Levy, Behavioral analysis: analysis of clinical observations of behavior as applied to mother-newborn relationships, page 358:
      Mother sat up, picked up baby, put him on shoulder, bubbled him.
  7. (transitive) To cause to feel as if bubbling or churning.
    • 1922, Conal O’Riordan, In London: The Story of Adam and Marriage, page 164:
      It seemed to Adam that he felt the blood in his toes creeping up his legs and body until it reached his brain where, finding it could go no farther, it bubbled him into dumbness: it added to his confusion to know that he looked as if some such accident had befallen his circulation.
    • 1973, Henry Cecil Walsh, Bonhomme: French-Canadian Stories and Sketches, page 9:
      A few minutes more would give him his first glimpse of the village wherein, many months before, he had left his wife and little ones. Anticipation bubbled him into song, and he broke forth into—A la claire fontaine M’en allant promener.
    • 2011, Tim O’Brien, Northern Lights, page 201:
      The frothing sensation bubbled him all over, a boiling without heat or any sound or light.
  8. (transitive) To express in a bubbly or lively manner.
    • 1924, Stella Benson, Pipers and a Dancer, page 14:
      Mrs. Hinds beamed at Ipsie through pince-nez and bubbled her joy through thin lips, but Ipsie made no reply.
    • 1934, Inez Haynes Gillmore, Strange Harvest, page 417:
      Delighted with this promenade, little Edith bubbled her joy without cessation.
    • 1999, Mollie Molay, Daddy by Christmas, page 106:
      “She’s a little girl like me,” Beth bubbled. “Her name is Buttons, ’cause she has a small nose. And she has a twin, too, just like me. Only my twin’s name is Carly.”
    • 2008, Douglas Allen Rhodes, Sex and Murder, page 55:
      Rachel bubbled her thanks and brushed past the Reverend, me in tow.
    • 2012, Andre Paul Goddard, The Blue Basin, page 414:
      But Ms. Loomat, far from a negative reaction, bubbled her joy at the news even congratulating Ms Lee on her acquisition.
  9. (transitive) To form into a protruding round shape.
    • 1929, The Saturday Evening Post, volume 201, page 50:
      She bubbled her lips at Junior and wrinkled her eyes.
    • 1978, Poul Anderson, The Night Face and Other Stories, page 159:
      She hasn’t bubbled her lips yet, has she?
    • 2005, Tracy Daugherty, Late in the Standoff: Stories and a Novella, page 17:
      I didn’t see much connection between the Bunnies and Michelle—something bubbled her blouses, and I’d heard her whisper with my sister about training bras, but her body was angular, skinny.
  10. (transitive) To cover with bubbles.
    • 1994, Jonathan Kellerman, Bad Love, page 57:
      Her mouth hung slightly open and water droplets bubbled her forehead, like oversized sweat.
    • 2005, Syne Mitchell, End in Fire, page 187:
      Tears of thanksgiving bubbled her eyes and blurred her vision.
    • 2007, Jason Blacker, Black Dog Bleeding, page 8:
      Oily beads of sweat bubbled his forehead.
  11. (transitive) To bubble in; to mark a response on a form by filling in a circular area (‘bubble’).
    • 2011, Allison Amend, Adam Robinson, Cracking the SAT.: Literature Subject Test, page 126:
      Cross out answers as you eliminate them, and practice bubbling your answers on the sheet provided at the very end of the book.
    • 2014, Cammie McGovern, Say What You Will:
      They bubbled her answers on Scantron tests, changed her sanitary napkins, helped her get in and out of the bathroom with a minimum of fuss.
    • 2019, Crash Course for the ACT, 6th Edition: Your Last-Minute Guide to Scoring High, page 15:
      You don’t want to go back and forth between the test booklet and your answer sheet to bubble your answers.
  12. (computing) To apply a filter bubble, as to search results.
  13. (intransitive) To join together in a support bubble
  14. (transitive, UK, slang) To grass (report criminal activity to the authorities).


Derived terms[edit]