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

intransitive verb

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

transitive verb

: to cause to bulge


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plural bulges
: a protuberant or swollen part or place
a bulge in the wall
trying to get rid of the bulge around his middle
: sudden expansion
a population bulge
: advantage, upper hand
letting them get the bulge on you
: bilge sense 1
the bulge of a barrel
nautical : bilge sense 2
ˈbəl-jē How to pronounce bulge (audio)
 also  ˈbu̇l-
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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Something about their bulging headlamps, bulbous body panels, and stylistic overreach has long struck me as trying a bit too hard. Basem Wasef, Robb Report, 2 Apr. 2024 These black bugs with bulging eyes differ from their greener-tinged cousins that come out annually. CBS News, 2 Apr. 2024 In want of a bulging bank account, winning is the next best carrot. Bryce Miller, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Mar. 2024 Senior Kayla Padilla’s eyes bulged out of their socks, her mouth a gaping O. Watkins ran down the baseline in glee to nowhere, then turned back in a jump-for-joy huddle with McKenzie Forbes and Marshall. Luca Evans, Orange County Register, 18 Mar. 2024 All of Seijas García’s clothing, toiletries and personal items were stuffed into a bulging duffle bag. Patrick Svitek, Washington Post, 20 Mar. 2024 British Land, Meta’s former landlord at 1 Triton Square, has sold 50% of its bulging Regent Street space as part of a joint venture with Royal London Asset Management Property (RLAMP) to turn it into an industry-leading science laboratory. Byryan Hogg, Fortune Europe, 19 Mar. 2024 But the visual appearance of the dead fish, which had telltale bulging eyes, pointed to gas bubble disease as the culprit. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Mar. 2024 From the artfully bulging upper windows of the towering Elbphilharmonie complex, the city of Hamburg stretches out in seeming miniature — a vast industrial expanse of cranes, drawbridges and the purple breath of distant smokestacks. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 6 Mar. 2024
The infant’s ribs grew more pronounced and her eyes began to bulge, Abu Sultan said, both signs of acute malnutrition. Hajar Harb, Washington Post, 6 Mar. 2024 The tree will also begin to bulge around where the trunk of the tree meets its roots. Brianna Taylor, Sacramento Bee, 5 Feb. 2024 The expansion causes the pavement to bulge and crack. Joseph Hernandez, Kansas City Star, 26 Jan. 2024 The condition, in which a blood vessel expands or bulges and can eventually rupture, is fairly novel within the game, where tendons, ligaments and soft tissue are usually of more concern. Evan Webeck, The Mercury News, 29 Feb. 2024 Some signs of ring shake can include a lean, large overgrown knots and bulges and burls near the base of the tree. Alex Groth, Journal Sentinel, 24 Jan. 2024 Finally, Negrete bandages the wound, an ugly bulge of the intestines visible under the gauze. Toby Muse, Rolling Stone, 3 Mar. 2024 In 1988, Biden had surgery to repair two brain aneurysms, which are weak bulges in arteries, and one of them leaking, but subsequent examinations have never revealed evidence of recurrences. Darlene Superville, Fortune, 28 Feb. 2024 Always keep the belly pulled in, rather than doing any movement that pushes it out (and causes the telltale bulge on the midline). Alesandra Dubin, Parents, 27 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bulge.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English bolgen


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

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


1622, in the meaning defined at sense 4b

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

Dictionary Entries Near bulge

Cite this Entry

“Bulge.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bulge. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
bulged; bulging
: to swell, curve outward, or stick out
bulging eyes
: to be filled to overflowing
a bulging notebook


2 of 2 noun
: a part that swells or sticks out


from early French boulge, bouge "leather bag," from Latin bulga "leather bag" — related to budget

More from Merriam-Webster on bulge

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