noun, often attributive
bub·​ble | \ ˈbə-bəl How to pronounce bubble (audio) \
plural bubbles

Definition of bubble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a small globule typically hollow and light: such as
a : a small body of gas within a liquid
b : a thin film of liquid inflated with air or gas
c : a globule in a transparent solid
d : something (such as a plastic or inflatable structure) that is hemispherical or semicylindrical
2a : something that lacks firmness, solidity, or reality
b : a delusive scheme
3 : a sound like that of bubbling
5 : a state of booming economic activity (as in a stock market) that often ends in a sudden collapse
6 : the condition of being at risk of exclusion or replacement (as from a tournament) usually used in the phrase on the bubble teams still on the bubble for the playoffs
7a : an enclosed or isolated sphere of experience or activity in which the like-minded members of a homogeneous community support and reinforce their shared opinions the liberal/conservative bubble Countless people … complain that Facebook employees are increasingly living in a bubble.— Nick Bilton
b : a usually small group of people (such as family members, friends, coworkers, or classmates) who regularly interact closely with one another but with few or no others in order to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection during an outbreak of a contagious disease : pod entry 4 sense 2 A quarantine bubble is a group of individuals or families whose members have been safely quarantining and who can now start hanging out with other observant groups, so long as the families observe safety guidelines and agree to be exclusive.— Jennifer Weiner If students suspect that they have the virus or test positive, they will move into a separate isolation housing complex, and university officials will trace their contacts. After the second round of testing, students will be expected to remain in designated cohorts or social bubbles, limiting contact with others.— Danielle Echeverria
c : an area within which sports teams stay isolated from the general public during a series of scheduled games so as to prevent exposure to disease and that includes accommodations, amenities, and the location at which the games are held In the days leading up to the NBA's Florida reboot, New Orleans Pelicans guard JJ Redick contemplated what provisions to bring for a stay in the Orlando bubble that would last at least five weeks. He initially focused only on the necessities and packed light. Then on July 8, once he arrived with the Pelicans at their appointed hotel, the Yacht Club, Redick gauged his room and hotel amenities.— Baxter Holmes Players, coaches, league staff and NBC media have been confined to either the training facility or the SpringHill Suites in Draper, which the league bought out for the vast majority of the PLL [Premier Lacrosse League] traveling contingent. Some people are housed at the dormitories a short distance away from the facility. The entire PLL bubble consists of less than 300 people. There have been no positive COVID-19 tests since establishing the bubble.— Alex Vejar The NHL "bubble" consists of limited areas in two hub cities—Edmonton and Toronto—where team personnel will be required to remain as the league tries to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Each club is taking up one floor in a designated hotel. Other access areas include arenas, practice facilities, dining destinations (hotel restaurants and bars, and conference areas where food is brought in) and "other demarcated areas (indoor and outdoor)," according to the league's Phase 4 protocols.— Tom Gatto
d : a series of scheduled games that is played between sports teams staying in a bubble Oklahoma City … has already clinched a playoff spot and is 3-3 in the bubble.Reuters
burst someone's bubble
informal : to cause someone to suddenly realize that something believed, trusted, or admired is not really true, good, etc. I hate to burst your bubble high school seniors, but, for most of you, the dreaded cafeteria food isn't going to get any better.— Sarah Tarr


bubbled; bubbling\ ˈbə-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce bubble (audio) \

Definition of bubble (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to form or produce bubbles
b : to rise in or as if in bubbles usually used with up
2 : to flow with a gurgling sound a brook bubbling over rocks
3a : to become lively or effervescent bubbling with good humor
b : to speak in a lively and fluent manner

transitive verb

1 : to utter (something) effervescently
2 : to cause to bubble

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Synonyms & Antonyms for bubble

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of bubble in a Sentence

Noun They saw air bubbles in the water. There were bubbles in the ice. The Internet stock bubble finally burst. Verb the soapy water bubbled down the drain
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Suns set the stage for this season with their play in the NBA bubble near Orlando last summer. Larry Starks, USA TODAY, "Kevin Durant perfect in return to Nets after long injury layoff," 8 Apr. 2021 The Blazers are still awaiting the Jusuf Nurkic who was dominant at the NBA bubble last summer to arrive this season. oregonlive, "Where do Portland Trail Blazers go from here after another loss to a top West team?," 7 Apr. 2021 Although Louisville designed the event with safety in mind, it wasn’t formulated exactly like the NBA’s bubble simply by virtue of the potential 3,000 fans in the stands. Shannon Russell, The Courier-Journal, "Setbacks have arisen, but the Louisville's men's basketball MTE keeps playing on," 6 Apr. 2021 Redick’s podcast debuted last July 27, about two weeks after the Pelicans, Mavericks and 20 other teams arrived in the NBA bubble on the Disney World campus. Dallas News, "How one podcast episode foreshadowed JJ Redick’s potential value as mentor for young Mavs," 1 Apr. 2021 A season ago, the Lakers ran through competition in the NBA’s bubble, in part, because of their chemistry. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, "Lakers’ big challenge: How does Andre Drummond fit, and who’s the odd man out?," 30 Mar. 2021 Clark went fishing in the NBA bubble and shared a photo of one of his catches. Dave Clark, The Enquirer, "Gary Clark traded from Orlando Magic to Denver Nuggets in blockbuster NBA deal, per report," 25 Mar. 2021 Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked to describe Johnson before the start of play inside the NBA bubble in Orlando, Fla., last summer. Tom Orsborn, San Antonio Express-News, "The triple take: Spurs 116, Cavaliers 110," 19 Mar. 2021 Flanked by kneeling teammates, the Miami Heat center stood for the national anthem when the country’s racial reckoning reached the NBA bubble. Deantae Prince, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Nothing is more dangerous than sincere ignorance. Meyers Leonard is a perfect example of that after the Miami Heat center used an anti-Semitic slur.," 12 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb There had been talk of forming an ad hoc postseason tournament in which up to 16 of Division III’s best teams would bubble up to play. Los Angeles Times, "Next ‘Jewish Jordan’? Can L.A.’s Ryan Turell be the first Orthodox Jewish NBA player?," 17 Mar. 2021 But interior designer Max Humphrey says rumors of the open floor plan’s death, which bubble up every year, are exaggerated. cleveland, "Popular home improvement projects for 2021 - and how to pay for them," 28 Feb. 2021 And sure, new tricks and workarounds inevitably bubble up to the surface every time Apple introduces a new iteration of iOS, but those discoveries are typically unearthed slowly but surely over the beta release period. Yoni Heisler, BGR, "Apple fans are obsessed with this TikToker’s awesome iPhone hack," 24 Feb. 2021 But for members of the LGBTQ community such as Marshall and Perry, the pandemic has been particularly pernicious, exposing vulnerabilities that often bubble beneath the surface. Susan Miller, USA TODAY, "'I lost everything': LGBTQ people are bearing a bigger brunt of the pandemic, report shows," 17 Dec. 2020 Nick Quah, who writes the Hot Pod newsletter, said that corporate interests tend to run contrary to what has always made podcasting interesting: the idea that anyone, anywhere, can bubble up and find an audience. New York Times, "Podcasting Is Booming. Will Hollywood Help or Hurt Its Future?," 25 Feb. 2021 Gentle, intentional, experiential—these words bubble up when Kerr breaks down her own skincare routine, which has featured the dual-phase oil cleanser for quite some time. Madge Maril, Harper's BAZAAR, "Miranda Kerr's Skin Care Secret Is Mushroom," 16 Feb. 2021 As a result, congressional insider trading scandals bubble up regularly—more regularly, probably, since the passage of the 2012 law that forces members to disclose large stock trades. Alex Pareene, The New Republic, "This Might Be a Good Time for Democrats in Congress to Stop Trading Stocks," 30 Jan. 2021 These tests bring a patient’s sickness to their top of mind, which can cause anxieties to bubble to the surface. Alice Oglethorpe, Good Housekeeping, "Ending Cancer Treatment Marks the Beginning of a Long, Challenging Health Journey," 30 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bubble.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bubble


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for bubble


Middle English bobel

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Time Traveler for bubble

Time Traveler

The first known use of bubble was in the 14th century

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Statistics for bubble

Last Updated

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bubble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bubble. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for bubble



English Language Learners Definition of bubble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a tiny, round ball of air or gas inside a liquid
: a small ball of air in a solid substance
: a very light ball of air inside a thin layer of soap



English Language Learners Definition of bubble (Entry 2 of 2)

: to form or produce bubbles
: to flow with the quiet sound of water moving over rocks
: to be very happy and excited


bub·​ble | \ ˈbə-bəl How to pronounce bubble (audio) \

Kids Definition of bubble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a tiny round body of air or gas in a liquid bubbles in boiling water
2 : a round body of air within a solid a bubble in glass
3 : a thin film of liquid filled with air or gas soap bubbles

Other Words from bubble

bubbly \ ˈbə-​blē \ adjective


bubbled; bubbling

Kids Definition of bubble (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to form or produce bubbles
2 : to flow with a gurgle The brook bubbles over rocks.

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