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[boo l-it] /ˈbʊl ɪt/
a small metal projectile, part of a cartridge, for firing from small arms.
a cartridge.
a small ball.
Printing. a heavy dot for marking paragraphs or otherwise calling attention to or itemizing particular sections of text, especially in display advertising.
Cards. an ace.
verb (used without object), bulleted, bulleting.
to move swiftly.
bite the bullet, to force oneself to perform a painful, difficult task or to endure an unpleasant situation:
We'll just have to bite the bullet and pay higher taxes.
Origin of bullet
1550-60; < Middle French boullette, equivalent to boulle ball (see bowl2) + -ette -ette
Related forms
bulletless, adjective
bulletlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for bullets
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It only remained for him to hold it true so that the bullets would reach their mark.

    The First Capture Harry Castlemon
  • The bullets of the posse had neither torn a tendon nor broken a bone.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • Already the bullets were dropping behind him, but he did not know of it.

    The Orphan Clarence E. Mulford
  • When Yates reached the tent, he found it empty and torn by bullets.

  • The captain made no answer, but pointed to them over the fireplace, where they hung, with a flask of powder and a bag of bullets.

    Washed Ashore W.H.G. Kingston
British Dictionary definitions for bullets


  1. a small metallic missile enclosed in a cartridge, used as the projectile of a gun, rifle, etc
  2. the entire cartridge
something resembling a bullet, esp in shape or effect
(stock exchange) a fixed interest security with a single maturity date
(commerce) a security that offers a fixed interest and matures on a fixed date
  1. the final repayment of a loan that repays the whole of the sum borrowed, as interim payments have been for interest only
  2. (as modifier): a bullet loan
(Brit, slang) dismissal, sometimes without notice (esp in the phrases get or give the bullet)
(printing) See centred dot
bite the bullet, See bite (sense 14)
Derived Forms
bullet-like, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from French boulette, diminutive of boule ball; see bowl²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bullets



1550s, from Middle French boulette "cannonball, small ball," diminutive of boule "a ball" (13c.), from Latin bulla "round thing, knob" (see bull (n.2)). Earliest version of bite the bullet recorded 1891, probably with a sense of giving someone a soft lead bullet to clench in the teeth during a painful operation.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for bullets



  1. Beans
  2. Peas, esp chickpeas and cowpeas (1900s+ Prison & Navy)

Related Terms

shit bullets, sweat bullets



  1. An ace (1807+ Card games)
  2. Money; dollars (1900+ Underworld)
  3. A rivet (WWII aircraft workers)
  4. Anything thrown or hit so as to travel very fast, esp a baseball: He's throwing bullets out there (1940s+)
  5. A record rising very fast on the popularity charts (1970s+ Recording industry)
  6. A one-year prison sentence; boffo (1990s+ Police)


: currently bulleting up the charts

Related Terms

bite the bullet

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with bullets
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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