Definition of balloon in English:

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Pronunciation: /bəˈlo͞on/


1A brightly colored rubber sac inflated with air and then sealed at the neck, used as a children’s toy or a decoration.
Example sentences
  • It is now colourfully decorated in balloons and streamers.
  • The gaily coloured banners and balloons decorating the streets give the impression of an impromptu homecoming party.
  • Other similarly coloured decorations included flowers, balloons, the cake and the reception at the Hanover International.
2 (also hot-air balloon) A large bag filled with hot air or gas to make it rise in the air, typically carrying a basket for passengers: he set his sights on crossing the Pacific by balloon
More example sentences
  • Just as an object less dense than water rises to the surface, our balloon filled with hot air rises through the surrounding air.
  • The blast of red hot air filled the balloon, lifting them high into the air.
  • But all in all, I could understand hot-air balloon aviators' fascination with the sport.
3A rounded outline in which the words or thoughts of characters in a comic strip or cartoon are written.
Example sentences
  • When applicable, Robinson will overlap his word balloons.
  • You've mentioned the haiku-like or telegram-like quality of word balloons in comics.
  • They're confused as to whether one follows the panels across or down, in what order the word balloons are sequenced, and so forth.
4 (also balloon glass) A large rounded drinking glass, used for brandy and other drinks.
Example sentences
  • Once this concoction is ready, be careful to drink it in without any garnishing in a brandy balloon glass.
  • Isn't it nice when your guy opens the door for you and slides the Cabernet Sauvignon into your balloon glass?
  • On the table in front of him stood a balloon glass of great capacity filled with white wine.


[no object]
1Swell out in a spherical shape; billow: the trousers ballooned out below his waist [with object]: the wind ballooned her sleeves
More example sentences
  • It split down the middle to reveal a light lavender petticoat and the sleeves ballooned out, at the top, and cascaded down, past her hands, ending in a waterfall of silky material.
  • The necks of old port bottles, for example, usually have a slightly bulbous form, so that the lower part of the cylindrical cork is weakened where it ballooned out and became cone shaped.
  • I was about to breathe a sigh of relief when they ballooned out and started to parachute down in the middle of the courtyard.
swell (out), puff out/up, bulge (out), bag, belly (out), fill (out), billow (out), distend
1.1(Of an amount of money) increase rapidly: the company’s debt has ballooned in the last five years (as adjective ballooning) ballooning government spending
More example sentences
  • The amount has ballooned from millions to billions.
  • The country's capital stock ballooned to reach a level that the economy could not support.
  • Broad money supply has ballooned $943 billion during the past 52 weeks.
increase rapidly, soar, rocket, shoot up, escalate, mount, surge, spiral
informal go through the ceiling, go through the roof, skyrocket
1.2(Of a person) increase rapidly and dramatically in weight: I had ballooned on the school’s starchy diet
More example sentences
  • She had ballooned up a good thirty pounds; her ankles were swollen and just carrying around her huge stomach made her ill.
  • I unwrapped the towels to discover my baby had ballooned up nicely.
  • She freely told Stevenson her figure had ballooned after she stopped taking a dietary supplement.
2Travel by hot-air balloon: he is famous for ballooning across oceans
More example sentences
  • The shuttle launch gantry is equipped with seven 1,200-foot-long sliding wires, each attached to a basket similar to those used for hot-air ballooning.
  • He told me that the early morning is the ideal time for this sport as the air is very calm and so this is probably the best time to go hot air ballooning.
  • They can try horse riding, hot air ballooning, jet skiing, windsurfing and Bill and Aine can even get glammed up for a night in a casino.


Resembling a balloon; puffed: a flouncy balloon curtain
More example sentences
  • There were silky balloon sleeve blouses and blouson jackets, with emphasised shoulders all beautifully printed art nouveau style.
  • A cozy knit tunic is styled with a round neckline with trim and short balloon sleeve.
  • Zeller created a luxurious European suite in one of the bedrooms with toile wall covering, balloon drapes and a wrought-iron headboard.


Late 16th century (originally denoting a game played with a large inflated leather ball): from French ballon or Italian ballone 'large ball'.

  • The balloon that carries passengers in a basket is older than the one used as a children's toy. In 1782 the brothers Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier built a large balloon from linen and paper and successfully lifted a number of animals, and the following year people, whereas the toy version did not appear until the middle of the next century. The word was adopted from French or Italian in the late 16th century, and originally referred to a large inflatable leather ball used in a game of the same name. It goes back to the same root as ball.

    The phrase when the balloon goes up, ‘when the action or trouble begins’, has been used in Britain since the 1920s. It may refer to the release of a balloon to mark the beginning of a race. By contrast, to go down like a lead balloon is American in origin: lead balloon appears as a term meaning ‘a failure, a flop’ in a comic strip of 1924 in which a man who had been sold dud shares discovered they were ‘about to go up as fast as a lead balloon’.

Words that rhyme with balloon

afternoon, attune, autoimmune, baboon, bassoon, bestrewn, boon, Boone, bridoon, buffoon, Cameroon, Cancún, cardoon, cartoon, Changchun, cocoon, commune, croon, doubloon, dragoon, dune, festoon, galloon, goon, harpoon, hoon, immune, importune, impugn, Irgun, jejune, June, Kowloon, lagoon, lampoon, loon, macaroon, maroon, monsoon, moon, Muldoon, noon, oppugn, picayune, platoon, poltroon, pontoon, poon, prune, puccoon, raccoon, Rangoon, ratoon, rigadoon, rune, saloon, Saskatoon, Sassoon, Scone, soon, spittoon, spoon, swoon, Troon, tune, tycoon, typhoon, Walloon

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: bal·loon

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