AskDefine | Define bilge

Dictionary Definition



1 water accumulated in the bilge of a ship [syn: bilge water]
2 where the sides of the vessel curve in to form the bottom


1 cause to leak; "the collision bilged the vessel"
2 take in water at the bilge; "the tanker bilged" [syn: take in water]

User Contributed Dictionary



A nautical/shipbuilding term, likely derived from bulge.


  • /bɪldʒ/, bIlj'


  1. The rounded portion of a ship's hull, forming a transition between the bottom and the sides.
  2. The lowest inner part of a ship's hull.
  3. The water accumulated in the bilge, the bilge water.
  4. In the context of "slang|uncountable": Stupid talk or writing; nonsense.
  5. The bulging part of a barrel or cask.


lowest inner part of a ship's hull
bilge water


  1. In the context of "nautical|intransitive": To spring a leak in the bilge.
  2. To bulge or swell.
  3. In the context of "nautical|transitive": To break open the bilge(s) of.


to bulge

Extensive Definition

thumb|200px|Bilge compartment in a steel hulled ship (looking down).First coined in 1523, the bilge referred to the lowest compartment on a ship where the two sides meet at the bottom. The term bilge itself is sometimes used to describe the water that collects in this compartment. Water that does not drain off the side of the deck drains down through the ship into the bilge. This water may be from rough seas, or rain or both. The water that collects in the bilge must be pumped out if it becomes too full and threatens to sink the ship. This water is pumped out of the vessel at a later time.
Bilge water can be found aboard every vessel, but its composition is always unique. Because the bilge wells receive fluids from many parts of the ship, bilge water can contain water, oil, urine, detergents, solvents, sweat, blood, chemicals, pitch, saliva, particles, and so forth.
By housing water in a compartment, it keeps it beneath the decks, making it safer for the crew to operate the vessel and for people to move around in strong weather.
The development of bilge pumps went from buckets, to hand pumps, and now electric bilge pumps are available for even small vessels. Bilge coatings are applied to protect the surfaces. The water is often noxious, and "bilge water" is a derogatory term often used colloquially to refer to something bad, ruined, or fouled.
A feature of the bilge is the swash plate, which serves to dampen the rush of water from side to side, which might destabilize the ship if allowed to run at will. The swash plates run fore and aft and have small openings near the bottom where the water is allowed to run through.


bilge in German: Bilge
bilge in Persian: خن
bilge in Hebrew: שיפוליים
bilge in Polish: Zęza

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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