\ ˈbəlj How to pronounce bulge (audio) also ˈbu̇lj \
bulged; bulging; bulges

Definition of bulge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to jut out : swell
b : to become swollen or protuberant … a pair of arresting pale blue eyes that tend to bulge maniacally …— Jeremy Egner
c : to bend outward prevent the brick wall from bulging
2 : to be filled to overflowing a notebook that bulged with ideas
3 archaic : bilge

transitive verb

: to cause to bulge


plural bulges

Definition of bulge (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a protuberant or swollen part or place a bulge in the wall trying to get rid of the bulge around his middle
2 : sudden expansion a population bulge
3 : advantage, upper hand letting them get the bulge on you
4a : bilge sense 1 the bulge of a barrel
b nautical : bilge sense 2

Other Words from bulge


bulgy \ ˈbəl-​jē How to pronounce bulge (audio) also  ˈbu̇l-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for bulge


projection, protrusion, protuberance, bulge mean an extension beyond the normal line or surface. projection implies a jutting out especially at a sharp angle. those projections along the wall are safety hazards protrusion suggests a thrusting out so that the extension seems a deformity. the bizarre protrusions of a coral reef protuberance implies a growing or swelling out in rounded form. a skin disease marked by warty protuberances bulge suggests an expansion caused by internal pressure. bulges in the tile floor

Examples of bulge in a Sentence

Verb His face turned white and his eyes bulged. middle-aged people bulging at the waist Their bags bulged with books and papers. The squirrel's cheeks were bulging with nuts. a notebook bulging with ideas Noun “What's in there?” he asked, pointing to the large bulge in my purse. I'm exercising to get rid of this bulge around my middle. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Another of his cautions: When hardware is embedded in the door and humidity causes woodwork to contract and expand, the door might stick or bulge out slightly. Alice Welsh Doyle, WSJ, 13 May 2022 For instance, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) recommends people with diverticulosis—a disease in which little sacs bulge out of the weak areas of your colon wall—incorporate more fiber into their diet. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, 31 Mar. 2022 The moon's gravitational pull and subsequent effect on the tides causes water on Earth's surface to bulge slightly around the equator. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, 13 Jan. 2022 One likened the process to pushing in one side of a balloon only to see the opposite side bulge out. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, 1 Nov. 2021 Your eyes bulge out of your face, and hearts possibly appear in them. Sara K. Runnel, The New Yorker, 31 Aug. 2021 As many hospitals bulge again with covid-19 patients, a wide swath of the health-care industry is exasperated that federal health officials have not made available any more of the aid since President Biden took office. Washington Post, 19 Aug. 2021 Tire boots—thick rubber patches—will hold together most gashes, but if the rip is large and ragged, the tube may bulge through. Joe Lindsey, Outside Online, 1 June 2021 Reflections in the brass base of the lamp bulge out, convex, contorted, unlike real objects below. Owen Thomas, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In 2014, a 4.5-million voter edge for Republicans led to 247 red seats; in 2020, an almost 4.7 million vote bulge for Democrats created just 222 blue ones. David Daley, CNN, 22 Apr. 2022 And McGovern agreed that the Babe was fat—but thought that should inspire the average American. Ruth would put in two hours of work each day to battle the bulge, working with medicine balls, dumbbells, and treadmills. Greg Presto, Smithsonian Magazine, 26 Apr. 2022 At the Garden, he was dressed like a guy ready for a rowdy night in a rural bar: boots, sleeveless flannel, tight jeans with a Skoal-sized bulge in the back pocket. Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker, 15 Feb. 2022 What the man doesn’t know is that the interior of his down jacket has suffered a structural failure, and the filling has massed along the bottom hem, forming a conspicuous bulge at his waist. New York Times, 27 Dec. 2021 Once considered a formidable asset, has India’s demographic bulge turned toxic due to the country’s lost economic decade? Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 23 Dec. 2021 Theresa Grant, a resident of Culver City, has endured debilitating pain for the past year from a mysterious bulge protruding from her lower rib cage. Los Angeles Times, 21 Dec. 2021 Unlike the Raptor, the nose of this jet appears to have a bulge at the midsection that runs toward the rear of the plane. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 10 Nov. 2021 Put another way, there’s been a dearth of baby making in China for decades now and that means there’s a demographic bulge. Simon Constable, Forbes, 30 Oct. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of bulge


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


1622, in the meaning defined at sense 4b

History and Etymology for bulge


Middle English bolgen


Middle English boulge, bouge leather bag, curved part, from Anglo-French bouge bag — more at budget

Learn More About bulge

Time Traveler for bulge

Time Traveler

The first known use of bulge was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near bulge



bulge hoop

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Statistics for bulge

Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Bulge.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bulge. Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for bulge


\ ˈbəlj How to pronounce bulge (audio) \
bulged; bulging

Kids Definition of bulge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to swell or curve outward Muscles bulged from his shirt.



Kids Definition of bulge (Entry 2 of 2)

: a swelling part : a part that sticks out

More from Merriam-Webster on bulge

Nglish: Translation of bulge for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bulge for Arabic Speakers


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