Definition of bump in English:

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Pronunciation: /bʌmp/


1A light blow or a jolting collision: a nasty bump on the head
More example sentences
  • In times of bumps, falls and collisions, knees can be susceptible to fractures.
  • The amniotic fluid and membrane cushion the fetus against bumps and jolts to the mother's body.
  • Although the road from Maneybhanjang to Sandakphu is motorable, it is a wiser choice to hike it rather than suffer the jolts and bumps of the track.
jolt, collision, crash, smash, smack, crack, thwack, bang, thud, thump, buffet, knock, rap, tap, impact
informal whack, bash, wallop
1.1 (the bumps) British informal (On a person’s birthday) a custom by which the person is lifted by the arms and legs and let down on to the ground, once for each year of their age: the children were given the bumps
More example sentences
  • Singer Athesia will be given the bumps with the help of DJs Uzi, Emanuelle, Scott C and Chevy Van on the Road and a plethora of visual artists and performers.
  • Beth turned 17 on the 5th of September so we gave her the bumps.
  • The other actors sang me the usual and then they gave me the 'bumps', where they had to hold my arms and legs and throw me up in the air.
1.2 Rowing (In races where boats make a spaced start one behind another) the point at which a boat begins to overtake or touch the boat ahead, thereby defeating it.
Example sentences
  • The crew got back on top of Corpus at the Railway Bridge to gain a hard fought bump.
  • A good crew will gain a bump every day.
  • On gaining a bump, crews move out of the way and cease racing.
1.3 Aeronautics A rising air current causing an irregularity in an aircraft’s motion.
Example sentences
  • While the bump itself still can be felt, the reaction of the airplane to it can be almost completely dampened out with no change in altitude.
  • With a gentle bump on the bottom, we arrive at minus 500 feet.
  • As soon as they passed over the ridge they experienced a considerable air bump throwing the aircraft suddenly upwards on the windward side.
2A protuberance on a level surface: bumps in the road
More example sentences
  • How many babies before mine have been jolted awake by the bumps and cracks in the concrete created by unruly tree roots and water damage?
  • It is a grassy bump amongst other grassy bumps and is marked with a small cairn.
  • Seconds later, a family friend on skis went over the same bump and crashed into Jack after failing to spot him lying in the snow.
hump, bulge, lump, knob, knot, projection, prominence, eminence, ridge, protuberance
2.1A swelling on the skin, especially one caused by illness or injury: her mosquito bites had come up in huge red bumps
More example sentences
  • You have moderate acne if you have swelling, red bumps, or pustules, along with the whiteheads and blackheads.
  • Clumps of itchy or prickly tiny red bumps on the skin that appear with hot humid weather in tropical countries is called miliaria or prickly heat in layman's terms.
  • A common skin symptom of a food allergy is hives, or raised red itchy bumps on the skin.
swelling, lump, bulge, injury, contusion;
nodule, node, outgrowth, growth, carbuncle, hunch, excrescence, protuberance, projection
technical process, bulla
rare tumescence, intumescence, tumefaction
2.2 dated A lump on a person’s skull, formerly thought to indicate a particular mental faculty.
Example sentences
  • Where some people have a bump of direction, I have a small black hole.
  • Gall thought that he was able to correlate certain particular mental faculties to bumps and depressions on the surface of the skull.
  • A bump on the skull directly above one of these sections indicates that the particular faculty, called an organ, is more than normally developed.
3 informal, chiefly US An increase: there was a bump in the number of outbound flights
More example sentences
  • Obama checked in at 22 percent, a 4-point bump from the earlier poll.
  • This helped bump it up two spots to the ninth largest in 2003 from the No.11 spot in 2002.
  • But they say the sales increase would only be a small bump to total industry sales, already exceeding $20 billion.
4 [mass noun] A loosely woven fleeced cotton fabric used in upholstery and as lining material.
Example sentences
  • Looking ahead, Valentini says she's exploring other uses for her Bump fabric, possibly as an industrial upholstery or wall covering.
  • Bleached bump is suitable for white curtains or backgrounds, unbleached for other fabrics when a cream cast will not matter.
  • Yarn used to produce the average cotton bump contains seed contamination which can cause problems with some face fabrics.


1 [no object] Knock or run into someone or something with a jolt: I almost bumped into him [with object]: she bumped the girl with her hip
More example sentences
  • Grace struggled more violently than before, bumping against a table and knocking a large porcelain vase to the floor, where it shattered into a thousand pieces with a loud crash.
  • Knocking down the fire-irons, tumbling over the chairs, bumping against the piano, smothering himself among the curtains, wherever she went, there went he.
  • Behind, the young women are fast asleep, their heads gently bumping against each other now and then.
hit, ram, bang (into), collide with, be in collision with, strike, knock (into), knock against, crash into/against, smash into, slam into, crack into/against, dash against, run into, plough into;
North American  impact
1.1 (bump into) Meet by chance: we might just bump into each other
More example sentences
  • There is little chance of casually bumping into people, and I can see why stars who crave anonymity choose to live here.
  • Because of my disfigured body I chose to swim when there was no chance of bumping into anyone I knew.
  • By chance he bumped into her again that night at another pub and worked up the courage to speak with her.
meet (by chance), encounter, meet up with, run into, come across, run across, chance on, stumble on/across, happen on
archaic run against
1.2 [with object] Hurt or damage (something) by striking it on something else: she bumped her head on the sink
More example sentences
  • I got a nice bump on my foot, and after about a year, it no longer hurt like hell to bump that part of my foot on something.
  • Mr Lamb had a strong start but disaster struck at Great End when he tripped, gashing his right knee, bumping his head and cracking a couple of ribs.
  • At one point George tells of his struggle ‘I was standing, well not really, I was crouched over trying to stand and kept bumping my head, damn that hurt’.
1.3 [with object] Rowing (In a race) gain a bump against.
Example sentences
  • The object is to catch up to and physically bump the boat in front - or overtake them - before being caught and bumped by the boat behind you.
  • In rare circumstances boats are able to bump the boat five places ahead.
  • During torpids once a boat has bumped another they must stop racing (as you can bump only one boat per round).
2 [no object, with adverbial of direction] Move or travel with much jolting: the car bumped along the rutted track
More example sentences
  • As we headed for the forest, we bumped along in a large all-wheel-drive military-type vehicle over the roughest forest roads we'd ever experienced.
  • But since Deja had bumped along with a skeleton staff for several months, and functioned fine, we wondered if this would really have hurt Google financially.
  • The cart still tottered as it bumped along the Mourning Valley.
bounce, jolt, jerk, rattle, shake, jounce
2.1 [with object and adverbial of direction] Push (something) jerkily in a specified direction: she had to bump the pushchair down the steps
More example sentences
  • It is a well known fact that cod will respond well to a bright and shiny pirk bumped along the bottom.
  • Lily would back her husband's wheelchair to the steps and then would bump the wheelchair down very steep and narrow ceramic steps to the floor.
  • He bumped the stroller up over a curb, and the baby began to cry.
3 [with object] Refuse (a passenger) a reserved place on a flight because of deliberate overbooking by the airline: if you check in on time and are bumped, you will be entitled to a full refund
More example sentences
  • Airline passengers who are bumped off flights or suffer serious delays will receive automatic compensation under rules agreed by the EU yesterday.
  • It should also have been a clue that they might have a problem as during the day more and more overbooked passengers were bumped to the next flight.
  • That is sound practice, and this bill makes an airline liable for those delays when it has been a deliberate case of the airline either cancelling a flight or bumping passengers off it.
3.1North American Displace from a job, especially in favour of someone else: she was bumped for a youthful model
More example sentences
  • By comparison, Russia has five current or former world champions and is so deep that Sajidov bumped reigning Olympic champion Adam Saitiev for these games.
  • Aging receivers bumped were Jacksonville's Jimmy Smith, Denver's Rod Smith and Oakland's Tim Brown.
  • Getting bumped is no reflection on MarineMax, which is one of the best-performing public companies in the Tampa Bay area.



be bumping along the bottom

Reach the lowest point in performance or ranking without improving or deteriorating further: the economy was still bumping along the bottom
More example sentences
  • By contrast, the previous low in 1999 was reached while the price of oil was bumping along the bottom.
  • If you compare us to other schools in the Doncaster area we have gone from bumping along the bottom to now being in mid-table in Doncaster, yet we were placed into special measures.
  • With the US economy having been at best bumping along the bottom and media companies suffering from a drastic reduction in advertising revenue, American media moguls have more immediate issues on their mind than bids in Britain.

a bump in the road

informal A problem or setback: their relationship has hit another bump in the road
More example sentences
  • Senior administration officials insist the split within the party is just a bump in the road.
  • Call it a pause or a hiatus or a bump in the road or a dead end.
  • Maybe this is nothing more than a bump in the road, a mere blip on the sports radar.

with a bump

Suddenly and shockingly: the scandal brought them down to earth with a bump
More example sentences
  • Top-flight newcomers Brasenose came down to earth with a bump, losing 32-8 to a well-drilled Keble side who dominated a bad-tempered game in the University Parks this Tuesday.
  • Walton & Hersham won 6-1 at Chertsey last week, but they were brought down to earth with a bump by a 3-1 home defeat against Leatherhead on Saturday.
  • It's been the same for the past four years; over the nine summer weeks, I pass quickly through the Big Brother stages of boredom, rejection, revision, adulation and elation, only to come down to earth with a bump when it ends.

Phrasal verbs


bump someone off

informal Murder someone: he would try and bump the blackmailer off
More example sentences
  • If a human life begins at the moment of the fusion of the gametes, then experimenting on embryos and subsequently discarding them is morally equivalent to experimenting on human beings before bumping them off.
  • Ten strangers are trapped by a rainstorm at an isolated desert hotel and someone starts bumping them off until they eventually turn on each other.
  • Instead of bumping Ruby off, let the character develop-and hang on to Jesneck and Eustis.

bump something up

informal Increase something: the hotel may well bump up the bill
More example sentences
  • A well-executed ad campaign bumps up the impact of demos and other traditional labor activities.
  • But why bump up the penalties for simple possession of objectionable material to 5 years?
  • Such progress helped bump up annual 2003 pre-tax profits by a hefty 21% to €4.8b.


Mid 16th century (as a verb): imitative, perhaps of Scandinavian origin.

  • jump from early 16th century:

    Like bump (mid 16th century) and thump (mid 16th century), jump was probably formed because it ‘sounded right’, and seemed to express the sound of feet hitting the ground. It was first used around 1500. To jump the gun, or act too soon, comes from the idea of an athlete starting a race a split-second before they hear the starting gun. A jumpsuit was a term first used in the USA in the 1940s for the outfit worn by parachutists when making their jumps. Jumper (mid 19th century) is unrelated. In the 19th century it was a loose outer jacket worn by sailors and is now a woollen jersey in UK English, but a style of dress in the USA. It may come from Scots jupe, ‘a loose jacket or tunic’, which in turn came through French from Arabic jubba.

Words that rhyme with bump

chump, clump, crump, dump, flump, frump, gazump, grump, jump, lump, outjump, plump, pump, rump, scrump, slump, stump, sump, thump, trump, tump, ump, whump

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: bump

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