Definition of bulge in US English:



  • 1A rounded swelling or protuberance that distorts a flat surface.

    • ‘The bulge was back, and so were the cortisone injections.’
    • ‘Since the revolution, the mobsters have kept a lower profile, although visitors will still spot large, muscular men with their jackets undone and suspicious bulges under their left arms as they get out of glittering Mercedes.’
    • ‘When present they may produce a bulge of the lateral nasal wall anterior to the middle turbinate.’
    • ‘The foam, filled with tiny oxygen bubbles, can be injected into veins to smooth bulges and stop blood-flow problems behind the condition.’
    • ‘He breathed in the scent of her hair and ran a hand down her side to caress the smooth, rounded bulge where their first, long tried for child was growing.’
    • ‘Rising from the radiator grille, a prominent bulge in the hood runs to the base of the windscreen.’
    • ‘Though he was now touched by the first papery brittleness of old age, his shoulders were still broad, his biceps showed bulges, his posture was mostly erect, and he seemed relaxed.’
    • ‘Under their ponchos he spied telltale bulges that he took to be weapons.’
    • ‘Another layer of fat, deeper under the skin, called the scarpus fascia controls the contours, bulges and bumps in our body.’
    • ‘Jones's forms and drawing are ultimately based on perception, disciplined by a sense of geometric order that occasionally gives way to smooth curves and rough bulges.’
    • ‘Keratoconus is an irregular bulge of the cornea, or the clear surface structure over the eye.’
    • ‘The main entrance to the station concourse lies on the west side of the building, signified by a slight bulge as the glass side wall curves outward.’
    • ‘The rounded bulge of its roof was visible above the dry-stone dyke.’
    • ‘To answer those questions, Fuchs and her colleagues first isolated stem cells from the bulge by fusing antibodies to characteristic cell surface molecules.’
    • ‘The original smooth surface often becomes worn, with bulges and cracks appearing here and there.’
    • ‘Yes, my stomach is bigger than I'd like and I have little bulges at the top of my inner thighs, but that doesn't make them, or me, ‘bad’.’
    • ‘The brain, too, develops in the first instance from a simple sheet of cells that gradually curls up into a tube that sprouts bulges, which over time differentiate into ever more complex shapes.’
    • ‘They calculate that the plume's buoyancy, as inferred by seismic imaging, is just enough to produce a bulge in the overlying surface that matches the superswell in size and height.’
    • ‘The hernia may look like a bulge or swelling in the groin area.’
    • ‘Once thought to be a terrible menace, some experts now advise to ignore these bulges which appear in the stems of all types of citrus trees.’
    swelling, bump, lump, protuberance, protrusion, prominence, projection, eruption, convexity
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    1. 1.1 (especially in a military context) a piece of land that projects outward from an otherwise regular line.
      ‘the advance created an eastward-facing bulge in the line’
      • ‘The larger part of the main forces belonged to the 10th army concentrated in the central part of the WSMD in the Bialystok bulge area.’
      • ‘The Germans planned powerful attacks from the areas near Orel and Belgorod toward Kursk to surround and destroy the Soviet forces within the bulge.’
      • ‘The major sticking point was the fate of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, an oblong bulge of Jordanian territory that 800,000 Palestinians called home.’
      • ‘This is particularly true along the boundaries of the crescent-shaped Islamic bloc of nations from the bulge of Africa to Central Asia.’
      • ‘Ghana is situated on the large bulge that projects into the Atlantic Ocean.’
    2. 1.2informal in singular A temporary unusual increase in number or size.
      ‘a bulge in the birth rate’
      • ‘And the situation will become even more acute as the great demographic bulge of the baby boom moves into retirement.’
      • ‘It will be possible to continue New Zealand superannuation at present real levels through the bulge of the retirement of the baby boomers, because we are being prudent and investing now.’
      • ‘And experience suggests that cultural and social shifts are likely to emerge from a youth bulge.’
      • ‘Generation Y Grows Up: Another population bulge has occurred as a result of Boomers having babies.’
      • ‘The reason it's ‘unsustainable’ is that the program would need more funds to get through the demographic bulge created by the baby generation.’
      • ‘Everyone understands the system will go into deficit when members of the baby-boom population bulge start retiring and becoming infirm.’
      • ‘That's a long time - long enough to weather most of the baby-boomer bulge.’
      • ‘Most pressing is the large demographic bulge of the baby boom, people who are going to be retiring over the next 30 years.’
      • ‘But as the baby-boomer bulge moves through the system, our pension debt will also increase.’
      • ‘The huge prison bulge may temporarily slow down crime, as it apparently has, but as offenders are released, the number of new crimes can be expected to skyrocket.’
      • ‘During the 1960s, 70s and 80s there were high birth rates in the Muslim world, and this has given rise to a huge youth bulge.’
      • ‘We who were born in the mid 50's are the biggest bulge of the baby boom cohort.’
      • ‘Our unique demographic profile, caused by the 1970s baby boom, continues to produce a bulge in the population of young adults.’
      • ‘Old people are not only living longer and getting richer - they are becoming more numerous as the post-war generation bulge enters its third age.’
      • ‘This turnaround is largely the result of the Baby-boomer bulge entering retirement and being succeeded by steady-state Baby-bust workforce.’
      • ‘As the demographics I discussed earlier change, and as the baby boomers retire and the bulge flows through, there will be a huge increase in the cost of New Zealand superannuation.’
      surge, upsurge, rise, increase, escalation, jump, leap, boost, intensification, augmentation
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[no object]
  • 1Swell or protrude to an unnatural or incongruous extent.

    ‘the veins in his neck bulged’
    ‘he stared with bulging eyes’
    • ‘They can be quite painful and because of the contractions, the muscle often becomes hard and appears to be bulging.’
    • ‘Danny froze and the General's eyes bulged as he puffed his moustache.’
    • ‘I turned round and there behind me stood an enormous Maori man whose tattooed biceps bulged from his singlet.’
    • ‘Therefore, any food container that bulges or swells may contain gas produced by C. botulinum and should not be opened or tasted.’
    • ‘The children are obviously terrified: they swallow nervously, their eyes bulge, they stand with stiff little postures and when they lose, they look stricken and sob on their mothers' shoulders.’
    • ‘A long torso may mean roomier accommodations for a baby, making it less likely for a woman's belly to bulge outward.’
    • ‘He was at least as tall as Veltrop Plinn and his thick muscles bulged in his neck and arms.’
    • ‘Romantic or touching moments are cued with swelling music, unbelievably swelling music that bulges and finally erupts from your speakers to reach a peak of splendiferousness.’
    • ‘This takes account of the fact that the earth isn't a perfect sphere - it bulges slightly at the equator - so the best global grid isn't a sphere, it's an ellipsoid.’
    • ‘My eyes bulged and I stared at the board in bewilderment.’
    • ‘Carey's eyes seemed to bulge, the cords on his neck standing taut.’
    • ‘Satan could see the veins in Simon's neck begin to bulge, his jaw tighten.’
    • ‘In the high mountains, the bellies of top climbers bulge like bowling balls.’
    • ‘These dots appear like perforations in a three-dimensional surface that, close up, seems to bulge and swell and recede.’
    • ‘The danger is that straining to empty the bowel may damage it, leading to diverticular disease, in which the lining of the intestines bulges through weaknesses in their muscles.’
    • ‘He could feel the blood pumping through the veins that were starting to bulge out of the neck muscles.’
    • ‘Its order books are bulging and profits are up 70% on the back of a soaring aerospace market.’
    • ‘Sometimes it can be genuinely disabling without the right treatment, if a nerve is trapped or a disc is bulging.’
    • ‘Some say sluggish blood and lymph circulation allow fluids and toxins to accumulate, causing fat cells to inflate and bulge up against the skin.’
    • ‘Jenkins' eyes, already wild and dilated, began to bulge as he fought for breath.’
    swell, swell out, puff out, puff up, stick out, balloon, balloon out, balloon up, fill out, bag, belly
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    1. 1.1 Be full of and distended with.
      ‘a briefcase bulging with documents’
      • ‘Initially, my postbag would bulge with letters about this issue in October and November as Guy Fawkes Night, November 5, approached.’
      • ‘On the moor, we crossed becks bridged by railway sleepers and bulging with pondweed and we met a couple of cyclists.’
      • ‘Years bleed into one another as file cabinets bulge with extraneous information.’
      • ‘It is early morning on the Greek island of Paxos and a bearded Dalietos has just returned from the harbour with a carrier bag bulging with fish.’
      • ‘All over the city, pockets are bulging with loose change and the burden of having no one to give it to.’
      • ‘So they said yes, it takes me a few hours a week and they give me a suitcase bulging with cash each year in return.’
      • ‘He patted an example of a feedback file, which was bulging with faxed compliments for a very busy individual.’
      • ‘Tony must feel like a man who has a wallet bulging with notes in one hand and a clutch of pressing bills in the other.’
      • ‘His pockets bulge with change, because when he goes to a shop he can never hear when the assistant tells him how much to pay, and so always proffers a £5 note.’
      • ‘It goes without saying that shoppers who are ill-advised enough to carry them at all invariably have a purse or wallet bulging with them.’
      • ‘I'm one of those people who comes back from a visit to the beach with my pockets bulging with stuff I've picked up.’
      • ‘He was carrying several shopping bags, bulging with packets and tins.’
      • ‘Some files in the museum are bulging with information, others, like Philip's, have remained empty.’
      • ‘Computer screens glow, fax machines stutter out reams of paper and the filing cabinets which line every wall bulge with thousands of documents.’
      • ‘Now, the harbour and the main town are a prime day-tripper destination, bulging with buses.’
      • ‘His pocket is bulging with invitations to his barbecue, but his mind is busy with the speech he is about to make to launch his Orkney Society.’
      • ‘Did she hand over the goods in a service station on the M1 in exchange for a brown envelope bulging with cash?’
      • ‘Newspapers bulge with travel advertisements and articles telling us about the wonders of the world.’
      • ‘As he spoke, one hand casually drifted toward the cigarbox bulging with dollar bills.’
      • ‘This is a volume bulging with examples of wasteful use of public money, arousing laughter and scorn in equal measure.’


Middle English: from Old French boulge, from Latin bulga (see budget). The original meaning was ‘wallet or bag’, later ‘a ship's bilge’ (early 17th century); other senses presumably derived from association with the shape of a full bag.