From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Etymology 1[edit]

English Wikipedia has an article on:
Three bullets (2)

From Middle English bullet (an official tag or badge of registration or identification), from Old French bullete, diminutive of boule (ball). Later influenced by Middle French boulette and French boulet.


  • IPA(key): /ˈbʊl.ɪt/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʊlɪt


bullet (countable and uncountable, plural bullets)

  1. A projectile, usually of metal, shot from a gun at high speed.
    Synonyms: (slang) cap, (slang) pill, (slang) slug
  2. (informal) An entire round of unfired ammunition for a firearm, including the projectile, the cartridge casing, the propellant charge, etc.
  3. Ammunition for a sling or slingshot which has been manufactured for such use.
    • c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. [] The First Part [], 2nd edition, part 1, London: [] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, [], published 1592, →OCLC; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire, London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, Act II, scene i:
      Then when our powers in points of ſwords are ioin’d
      And cloſde in compaſſe of the killing bullet,
      Though ſtraite the paſſage and the port be made,
      That leads to Pallace of my brothers life,
      Proud is his fortune if we pierce it not.
  4. (typography) A printed symbol in the form of a solid circle, “”, often used to mark items in a list.
    Synonym: bullet point
  5. (banking, finance) A large scheduled repayment of the principal of a loan; a balloon payment.
  6. A rejection letter, as for employment, admission to a school or a competition.
    John's not going to any of his top schools; he got a bullet from the last of them yesterday.
  7. (The addition of quotations indicative of this usage is being sought:) (slang) One year of prison time.
  8. (slang) An ace (the playing card).
    • 1969, Robert L. Vann, The Competitor, volumes 2-3, page 135:
      The miser, a-seeking lost gelt,
      The doughboy, awaiting the battle,
      May possibly know how I felt
      While the long years dragged by as the dealer
      As slow as the slowest of dubs,
      Stuck out the last helping of tickets
      'Till I lifted—the Bullet of Clubs!
  9. (figuratively) Anything that is projected extremely fast.
    • 2011 January 19, Jonathan Stevenson, “Leeds 1 - 3 Arsenal”, in BBC[1]:
      Just as it appeared Arsenal had taken the sting out of the tie, Johnson produced a moment of outrageous quality, thundering a bullet of a left foot shot out of the blue and into the top left-hand corner of Wojciech Szczesny's net with the Pole grasping at thin air.
  10. (in attributive use) Very fast (speedy).
  11. (chess, uncountable) Short for bullet chess.
    • 2020 August 21, Leonard Barden, “Chess: Carlsen fights back from brink to overcome Nakamura in 38-game epic”, in The Guardian[2]:
      Nakamura is a different animal at 15-minute rapid and five-minute blitz and even more so at one-minute bullet, and in this match he adopted a psychological approach which paid off brilliantly.
    • 2021 November 24, Tyler Cowen, “Chess Is an Esport Now. Get Used to It.”, in The Washington Post[3]:
      Carlsen also has been engaging in online marathons of "bullet chess," exactly the kind of attention-disrupting, energy-draining stunt contenders are supposed to avoid. In a bullet game, each player has only one minute for all the moves. The pace is so rapid the games are hard to watch, much less play.
    • 2022 July 27, Srinivasa Ramanujam, “'Feels like a festival': Praggnanandhaa on Chess Olympiad and meeting Rajinikanth”, in The Hindu[4]:
      Even today, when they're home, the siblings indulge in a friendly game or two. "We love playing bullet games. It's a format where we make really quick moves," he says, pausing to add, "Think of it like a super over in cricket."
  12. (fishing) A plumb or sinker.
  13. (Ireland, particularly in Northern Ireland) The heavy projectile thrown in a game of road bowling.
  14. (Australia) A roughly bullet-shaped sweet consisting of a cylinder of liquorice covered in chocolate.
  15. (obsolete) A small ball.
    • 1881, Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque:
      Would you not suppose these persons had been whispered, by the Master of the Ceremonies, the promise of some momentous destiny? and that this lukewarm bullet on which they play their farces was the bull's-eye and centrepoint of all the universe?
  16. (obsolete) A cannonball.
    • 1592, John Stow, The Annales of England:
      A ship before Greenwich [] shot off her ordinance, one piece being charged with a bullet of stone.
  17. (obsolete) The fetlock of a horse.
  18. A notation used on pop music charts to indicate that a song is climbing in the rankings.
    • 1975, Pete Wingfield (lyrics and music), “Eighteen with a Bullet”:
      I'm eighteen with a bullet
      Got my finger on the trigger, I'm gonna pull it
      I'm high on the chart
      I'm tip for the top
    • 2013, Hallee Bridgeman, A Melody for James:
      Her third release hit number one in record time — “number one with a bullet” as they said in the industry — and after that, there seemed to be no stopping her.
Hyponyms of bullet (noun, projectile)
Derived terms[edit]
Terms derived from bullet (noun)


bullet (third-person singular simple present bullets, present participle bulleting, simple past and past participle bulleted)

  1. (transitive, informal) To draw attention to (text) by, or as if by, placing a graphic bullet in front of it.
    • 2000, Merriam-Webster's collegiate encyclopedia, Merriam-Webster, Inc, page x:
      For instance, in the article on Tim Berners-Lee, we have bulleted "World Wide Web"
    • 2004, Richard P. Pohanish, HazMat data: for first response, transportation, storage, and security, page x:
      The author has bulleted this section to make it easier to read and included important notes and warnings.
    • 2008, Deanna Davis, The law of attraction in action, page 42:
      I had mind-mapped everything from my business to my baby girl's needs and had bulleted my talking points, brownie points, and breaking points for just about every life area
  2. (intransitive, informal) To speed, like a bullet.
    Their debut started slow, but bulleted to number six in its fourth week.
  3. (transitive, informal) To make a shot, especially with great speed.
    He bulleted a header for his first score of the season.


Etymology 2[edit]

From bull +‎ -let.


bullet (plural bullets) (rare)

  1. A young or little bull; a male calf.
    • 1886, Hamilton Literary Magazine, Clippings, page 110:
      —Chicago boasts of a citizen of fine discrimination and delicacy, who, riding in the suburbs with his best girl, passed a stable in the door of which stood a couple of calves. "See," said the young lady, "those two cute little cowlets." "Those are not cowlets, Araminta; they are bullets."
    • 1937, Quarterly Bulletin: The Historical Society of Northwestern Ohio, page 17:
      “I am not sure a compilation of odds and ends should be called a ‘book.’ Perhaps ‘booklet’ would be the better designation. My daughter, when quite young, once spoke of a heifer calf she saw grazing on the rim of the road as a ‘cowlet.’ In reality, the wayside animal was a ‘bullet.’ Though this book, or booklet, isn’t even calf-bound, the analogy should have been close enough to make me wary of jumping to a conclusion. However, it is too late now.
    • 1959, C. B. Kitchens, X-syrps from the Trickem News Chronic, page 5:
      YES — imagine, if you can, that all human beings are cows and or bulls for just one day (I just can’t stand the thoughts of being a cow for more than one day). SO — lets[sic] take the cow and bull side of the question first. REMEMBER — you are a cow or bull. Mrs. Cow has been home all day busy getting the cotton seed meal and hulls ready for dinner, tending to the little cowlets and bullets and baking a bale of hay.
    • 2013 November 20, Gorio, “Re: Milk, redefined. What do you think about this????”, in rec.food.cooking (Usenet), message-ID <Gorio.cd28428.923639@foodbanter.com>:
      > Correct. No other animals drink cow's milk but cows! / Cows drink milk? Maybe their little cowlets and bullets (future steerlets) do; but I have yet to see a cow drink milk. Other animals love cow milk. My dog, the barn cats up the road.
Coordinate terms[edit]



Borrowed from English bullet, from Middle French [Term?].


  • IPA(key): /bulət/, [ˈb̥uləd̥]


bullet (plural indefinite bullets, no definite forms)

  1. (typography) bullet (a printed symbol, e.g. •, used for marking items in a list) [from 1994]





  1. third-person singular present active subjunctive of bullō

Northern Sami[edit]


  • (Kautokeino) IPA(key): /ˈpuːlleh(t)/



  1. inflection of buollit:
    1. third-person plural present indicative
    2. second-person singular past indicative
    3. second-person plural imperative