verb (used with object)

  1. to expand or distend, as with air, water, etc.; cause to swell: Overeating bloated their bellies.
  2. to puff up; make vain or conceited: The promotion has bloated his ego to an alarming degree.
  3. to cure (fishes) as bloaters.

verb (used without object)

  1. to become swollen; be puffed out or dilated: The carcass started to bloat.


  1. Also called hoven. Veterinary Pathology. (in cattle, sheep, and horses) a distention of the rumen or paunch or of the large colon by gases of fermentation, caused by eating ravenously of green forage, especially legumes.
  2. a person or thing that is bloated.
  3. bloater(defs 1, 2).


  1. to swell or cause to swell, as with a liquid, air, or wind
  2. to become or cause to be puffed up, as with conceit
  3. (tr) to cure (fish, esp herring) by half-drying in smoke


  1. vet science an abnormal distention of the abdomen in cattle, sheep, etc, caused by accumulation of gas in the stomach

1670s, “to cause to swell” (earlier, in reference to cured fish, “to cause to be soft,” 1610s), from now obsolete bloat (adj.), attested from c.1300 as “soft, flabby, flexible, pliable,” but by 17c. meaning “puffed up, swollen.” Perhaps from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse blautr “soaked, soft from being cooked in liquid” (cf. Swedish blöt fisk “soaked fish”), possibly from Proto-Germanic *blaut-, from PIE *bhleu- “to swell, well up, overflow,” an extension of root *bhel- (2) “to blow, inflate, swell” (see bole).

Influenced by or combined with Old English blawan “blow, puff.” Figurative use by 1711. Intransitive meaning “to swell, to become swollen” is from 1735. Related: Bloated; bloating.


1860 as a disease of livestock, from bloat (v.). Meaning “bloatedness” is from 1905.


  1. Abdominal distention due to swallowed air or intestinal gas production.
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