Definition of bonus in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈbōnəs/


1An amount of money added to wages on a seasonal basis, especially as a reward for good performance: big Christmas bonuses
More example sentences
  • The federal government would also reward states with performance bonuses based in part on lower poverty rates.
  • Workers were paid a form of piece rate, which was a minimum wage plus a bonus for output over a certain level.
  • My weekly wage was about £150 and there were performance bonuses.
gratuity, gift, present, reward, prize, lagniappe;
incentive, inducement, handout
informal sweetener
1.1Something welcome and often unexpected that accompanies and enhances something that is itself good: good weather is an added bonus but the real appeal is the landscape
More example sentences
  • Geraldine, who organised the logistics of the trip, said it was what she expected, but the unexpected generosity of people along the way was an added bonus.
  • As an added bonus the DVD actually has enough extra content that it can be considered a special edition.
  • As an added bonus, the southern hemisphere is midway into its summer season, offering warm, comfortable temperatures for vacations this time of year.
1.2 Basketball An extra free throw awarded to a fouled player when the opposing team has exceeded the number of team fouls allowed during a period.
Example sentences
  • Frequently fouled teams get into the bonus more quickly, and it's nearly impossible to get transition baskets against a team that is shooting free throws.
  • During the game, players can earn ‘virtual credits’ by defeating other players or earning extra bonuses.
  • However a player will receive no bonuses at all that turn.
1.3British An extra dividend or issue paid to the shareholders of a company.
Example sentences
  • After year 13, reinvested dividends and bonuses would pay for future premium.
  • What the Trustee is after is the shareholder's dividends, bonuses, other payments that result, as a result that come from the share ownership.
  • I believe perks can be a wonderful bonus for shareholders.
1.4British A distribution of profits to holders of an insurance policy.
Example sentences
  • To get round the problem, they will probably pay the vast majority of with-profits policy holders their compensation through bonuses to their policies.
  • However, as these are with-profits policies, bonuses accrued to date will be small.
  • But the company says a standard policy holder with a full bonus making a claim will effectively pay out more than three times their annual premium.


Late 18th century (probably originally London stock-exchange slang): from Latin bonus (masculine) 'good', used in place of bonum (neuter) 'good, good thing'. Compare with boon2.

  • This was probably originally Stock Exchange slang, coming from Latin bonus ‘good’. Very recently—too recently to get into most dictionaries—the word malus has been recorded for a fine or penalty, based on Latin malus ‘bad’ on the pattern of bonus. The French form of bonus, bon may lie behind the mainly Scottish bonny ‘good, fair’. Bounty (Middle English) goes back to the same source. See also bonanza

Words that rhyme with bonus

Cronus, Jonas, lowness, onus, Tithonus

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: bo·nus

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.