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See also: bulgë


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A tent with a bulge in the side.


From Middle English bulge (leather bag; hump), from Old Northern French boulge (leather bag), from Late Latin bulga (leather sack), from Gaulish *bulga, *bulgos, from Proto-Celtic *bolgos (sack, bag, stomach). Cognate with bilge, belly, bellows, budget, French bouge, German Balg, etc.. See also budge, budget.


bulge (plural bulges)

  1. Something sticking out from a surface; a swelling, protuberant part; a bending outward, especially when caused by pressure.
    a bulge in a wall
    a bulge in my pocket where I kept my wallet
    • February 2018, Robert Draper in National Geographic Magazine, They Are Watching You—and Everything Else on the Planet
      Haz sits in the trailer for 10 hours straight, eyes trained on the patrons. If he sees the makings of a drug deal or a fight, he notifies the club’s in-house security by walkie-talkie. It amazes him how indiscreet drug dealers can be—with the bulges in their socks and their melodramatic handovers—despite the presence of security guards.
  2. The bilge or protuberant part of a cask.
  3. (nautical) The bilge of a vessel.
  4. (colloquial) The outline of male genitals visible through clothing.
    • 2010, Micky Livingston, Seventeen Inches, ISBN 1427650551:
      Max looked down and sure as crap, his bulge was huge, and he started to stammer and stutter and without hesitation said, Holy crap Sandy, look at what you do to me.
    • 2012, D.H.Clark/I.B.Long, A Grasp for Life: The continuing story of Howard Walker, ISBN 1475954921, page 75:
      As his bulge begins to swell once again, her hand strokes the length of it through his pants.
    • 2017, Dee Dawning, Extramarital, ISBN 1370999259:
      He walked right up to me, the knife poking him in the abdomen, just above his bulge.

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bulge (third-person singular simple present bulges, present participle bulging, simple past and past participle bulged)

  1. (intransitive) To stick out from (a surface).
    The submarine bulged because of the enormous air pressure inside.
    He stood six feet tall, with muscular arms bulging out of his black T-shirt.
    • 1922, Virginia Woolf, chapter 1, in Jacob's Room:
      The wind actually stirred the cloth on the chest of drawers, and let in a little light, so that the sharp edge of the chest of drawers was visible, running straight up, until a white shape bulged out; and a silver streak showed in the looking-glass.
  2. (intransitive) To bilge, as a ship; to founder.
    • Broome
      And scattered navies bulge on distant shores.