General English

  • noun a slight knock
  • noun a raised area on your body, where something has hit it
  • verb to hit something or a part of the body


  • verb (of the ball) to rise steeply off the wicket after pitching, typically as a result of some irregularity in the surface; steeple
    Citation ‘The wicket … played very queerly, the ball never coming off at a true pace and continually bumping or shooting’ (Headlam 1903)
  • verb (of the wicket) to bounce unevenly
    Citation ‘There’s a breathless hush in the close tonight
    Ten to make and the match to win
    A bumping pitch and a blinding light
    An hour to play and the last man in’
    (Sir Henry Newbolt, Vitai Lampada 1899)
  • verb to bowl a bouncer at a batsman
    Citation ‘Colin Croft … is not that fond of West Indian batsmen either, come to think of it, repeatedly bumping them in the nets’ (Peter Roebuck, Cricketer November 1982)


  • noun a slightly swollen part on the skin, caused by something such as a blow or sting


  • verb to kill. An item of street slang, abbreviating the now dated colloquialism bump off.
  • verb a shortening of bump ’n’ grind used by adolescents and rappers in the mid-1990s

Origin & History of “bump”

The earliest recorded sense of bump is ‘swelling, lump’, but the evidence suggests that the primary meaning is ‘knock’, and that this led on to ‘swelling’ as the result of being hit. It is not clear where the word came from, although it may be of Scandinavian origin; no doubt ultimately it imitates the sound of somebody being hit. The verbal sense ‘swell’, now obsolete, is probably responsible for bumper, which originally meant ‘full glass or cup’, and in the 19th century was extended to anything large or abundant (as in ‘bumper crop’).