from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A large wave or swell of water.
  • n. A great swell, surge, or undulating mass, as of smoke or sound.
  • intransitive v. To surge or roll in billows.
  • intransitive v. To swell out or bulge: sheets billowing in the breeze.
  • transitive v. To cause to billow: wind that billowed the sails.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A large wave, swell, surge, or undulating mass of something, such as water, smoke, fabric or sound
  • v. To surge or roll in billows
  • v. To swell out or bulge

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A great wave or surge of the sea or other water, caused usually by violent wind.
  • n. A great wave or flood of anything.
  • intransitive v. To surge; to rise and roll in waves or surges; to undulate.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To swell; rise and roll in large waves or surges.
  • To raise in waves or billows.
  • n. A great wave or surge of the sea, occasioned usually by a violent wind: much used in figurative applications, and often, especially in the plural, as merely equivalent to wave: as, the billows of sorrow rolled over him.
  • n. Synonyms See wave.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a large sea wave
  • v. become inflated
  • v. move with great difficulty
  • v. rise and move, as in waves or billows
  • v. rise up as if in waves


From Old Norse bylgja, a wave; see bhelgh- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old Norse bylgja, from Proto-Germanic *bulgijōn. Cognates include Danish bølge, Middle High German bulga and Low German bulge. (Wiktionary)


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  • "She unzips her coverall all the way down below her navel. Underneath is naught but billowing pale flesh." (p. 53, Snow Crash)

    December 27, 2010