General English

  • noun a large amount

General Science

  • noun a large quantity of something



  • The majority of something, such as its mass or volume.


  • noun the thickness of paper


  • noun the body of someone who is large or overweight


  • wine that has not yet been bottled
  • wine sold by the tanker-load and transported by lorry between wineries

Origin & History of “bulk”

Formally, bulk comes from Old Norse búlki, which meant ‘cargo’ or ‘heap’: the original connotation of the English word in this sense was thus of goods loaded loose, in heaps, rather than neatly packed up. That is the source of the phrase in bulk. However, a certain similarity in form and meaning to the English word bouk ‘belly’ (from Old English būc, and ultimately a descendant of west and north Germanic *būkaz) led to the two being confused, so that bulk was used for ‘belly’, or more generally ‘body’. modern connotations of ‘great size’ seem to be a blend of these two.

The bulk of bulkhead (15th c.) is a different word; it may come from Old Norse bálkr ‘partition’.