General English

Cars & Driving

  • noun a small blister in the paintwork


  • Either the air bubble in a leveling tube or the tube itself.
  • A large void in gypsum board caused by air entrapment during manufacturing.


  • noun a continued rise in the value of an asset, such as a share price, which is caused by people thinking that the price will continue to rise. It has nothing to do with the inherent value of the asset, and will collapse suddenly if speculators decide that the rise cannot continue. The most famous bubble was the South Sea Bubble in the 1720s, where speculators drove up the price of shares in companies trading in the Pacific area. A recent bubble was the rise in the value of shares in electronic and internet companies in the late 1990s.


  • noun a round shape containing the ‘spoken’ words in a cartoon


  • noun a Greek. Rhyming slang from ‘bubble and squeak’, an inexpensive dish of fried leftover mashed potatoes and greens. The term probably dates from the 19th century, but is still in use in London. In spite of its friendly sound, bubble is not a jocular term and can be used abusively.
  • verb to weep. The term is now heard particularly in the Scottish Lowlands and the north of England. It occurred in public-school slang as long ago as the 1920s.

Origin & History of “bubble”

several Germanic languages have words that sound like, and mean the same as, bubble – Swedish bubla, for instance, and Dutch bobbel – but all are relatively modern, and there is no evidence to link them to a common source. As likely as not, the whole family of bubble words represents ultimately an attempt to lexicalize the sound of bubbling, by blowing through nearly closed lips.