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From Middle English bolke (a heap, cargo, hold), from Old Norse búlki (the freight or the cargo of a ship), from Proto-Germanic *bulkô (beam, pile, heap), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰelǵ- (beam, pile, prop), related to Icelandic búlkast (to be bulky), Swedish dialectal bulk (a bunch), Danish bulk (bump, knob). Conflated with Middle English bouk (belly, trunk), from Old English būc (belly, stomach, pitcher), from Proto-Germanic *būkaz (belly, body), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰōw- (to blow, swell), related to Dutch buik (belly), German Bauch (belly, stomach), Swedish buk (belly, abdomen). More at bouk, bucket.



bulk (countable and uncountable, plural bulks)

  1. Size, mass or volume.
  2. The major part of something.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 12, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      There were many wooden chairs for the bulk of his visitors, and two wicker armchairs with red cloth cushions for superior people. From the packing-cases had emerged some Indian clubs, […], and all these articles […] made a scattered and untidy decoration that Mrs. Clough assiduously dusted and greatly cherished.
    • 2011 December 15, Felicity Cloake, “How to cook the perfect nut roast”, in Guardian:
      I'm convinced that the nut's very nutritiousness is to blame for the dish's poor reputation. They're so dense that a loaf made primarily from nuts would be more suitable for slicing into energy bars and selling to mountaineering supply shops - hence the main bulk of a nut roast is generally some form of carbohydrate, intended to lighten the load.
  3. The result of water retained by fibre.
  4. (uncountable, transport) Unpackaged goods when transported in large volumes, e.g. coal, ore or grain.
  5. (countable) a cargo or any items moved or communicated in the manner of cargo.
  6. (bodybuilding) Excess body mass, especially muscle.
  7. (brane cosmology) A hypothetical higher-dimensional space within which our own four-dimensional universe may exist.
  8. (obsolete) The body.
    • Shakespeare
      My liver leaped within my bulk.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of George Turberville to this entry?)



bulk (not comparable)

  1. being large in size, mass or volume (of goods, etc.)
  2. total



bulk (third-person singular simple present bulks, present participle bulking, simple past and past participle bulked)

  1. (intransitive) To appear or seem to be, as to bulk or extent.
    • Leslie Stephen
      The fame of Warburton possibly bulked larger for the moment.
  2. (intransitive) To grow in size; to swell or expand.
  3. (intransitive) To gain body mass by means of diet, exercise, etc.

Related terms[edit]