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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.
Abdominal distention due to swallowed air or intestinal gas production.
disorder of ruminant animals involving distention of the rumen, the first of the four divisions of the stomach, with gas of fermentation. Bloated cattle are restless and noticeably uncomfortable and have distended left flanks. Bloat often occurs in cattle that have grazed young, lush legumes such as clover or ingested large amounts of concentrate rations. Though deaths have occurred, economic losses from bloat usually derive from reduction in milk production and weight-gain rate. Treatment involves administration of antifoaming agents and relief of pressure by passage of a stomach tube via the esophagus.