from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A spot of light on a radar or sonar screen indicating the position of a detected object, such as an aircraft or a submarine.
  • noun A high-pitched electronic sound; a bleep.
  • noun A transient sharp upward or downward movement, as on a graph.
  • noun A temporary or insignificant phenomenon, especially a brief departure from the normal.
  • transitive verb To bleep.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Radar) a spot of light on a radar screen, showing the position of a reflecting surface, such as an airplane or ship.
  • noun a short upward or downward deviation from a trend line on a graph, especially in a plot of some variable, such as an economic variable, against time; rate.
  • noun something small or insignificant.
  • noun a brief interruption in the continuity of a recorded or transmitted signal.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A small dot registered on electronic equipment, such as a radar or oscilloscope screen.
  • noun A short sound of a single pitch, usually electronically generated.
  • noun after definition 1 A brief aberration or deviation from what is expected or normal.
  • verb transitive To skip over or ignore (with out).
  • verb intransitive To change state abruptly, such as between off and on or dark and light, sometimes implying motion.

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

  • noun a radar echo displayed so as to show the position of a reflecting surface
  • noun a sudden minor shock or meaningless interruption


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


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License



Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word blip.


  • The title blip was so fitting as it leaves for many interpretations, one of them being a spike - perhaps in reality!

    Blip Gyanban 2011

  • Europe is certainly picked up, but again, we don't know how much of that is a short term blip or whether we're looking at sustained trend given the endemic problems that we're all watching in Europe.

    unknown title 2011

  • Thus, if the lawyers' movement can inspire a merchant in Sindh to empathize with the trials and tribulations of a Supreme Court justice, teach media outlets repressed for half a century to resist the will of a military-led government and make a bookstore in Lahore quickly sell out of copies of the Pakistani Constitution, then its impact on the country cannot merely be a short-term blip on the radar.

    Ehsan Zaffar: Amid a Turbulent Year, a Rare Sign of Hope in Pakistan Ehsan Zaffar 2011

  • As I said, the obvious cause of that single-year blip is the combination of an economic downturn plus a huge spike in gas prices, which peaked at over $4/gallon in the summer of 2008. something has changed dramatically in American society.

    Matthew Yglesias » Doing It Low-Tech 2010

  • The obvious cause of that single-year blip is the combination of an economic downturn plus a huge spike in gas prices, which peaked at over $4 in the summer of 2008.

    Matthew Yglesias » Doing It Low-Tech 2010

  • "This might be a short-term blip as we build up to a peak of demand around the Olympics itself but it could also be a worrying indicator of a lack of engagement in the Olympics from both business and consumers", Green said.

    UK labour market shows drop in permanent and temporary jobs 2012

  • "We put them on negative outlook because we see the amount of debt they're currently raising as being more than just a short-term blip in terms of their leverage," said Peter Nerby , senior vice president on Moody's banking team.

    Nasdaq May Face Slide Into 'Junk' Michael Aneiro 2011

  • What I wouldn't give for a September 10th mindset, back when it seemed like the Bush administration would be an annoying one-term blip in our country's history.

    McCain Campaign Accuses Obama Of Having "A September 10th Mindset" 2009

  • Then again .. blip could REALLY stand to have a slick viddler flash interface … maybe the two should partner … of course maybe viddler sees blip as competition.

    Thoughts on Mozilla | FactoryCity 2007

  • I certainly won't decry the efforts of the people concerned, but it was a short term blip rather than a long term solution.

    The decline of Welsh Manufacturing Dylan Jones-Evans 2009


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • I can't believe I have to request a book to the NYPL just to add a quotation about this word.

    June 13, 2008

  • What book is it? I was just reading a book today which made extensive use of this word.

    June 13, 2008

  • It's about a group of mammals that emits that sound.

    June 13, 2008

  • It sounds excellent - please give me the details. Mine is about a person - or is it a machine? - which emits that sound, and I'm enjoying it.

    June 13, 2008

  • Let's say it's about a mammal whose vocalization should NOT be called blip.

    I requested the book - google books cuts the quotation!

    June 13, 2008

  • An elephant? A gnu? A howler monkey? I must read this book.

    June 13, 2008

  • As I have said, the sounds made by fin and blue whales are both the loudest and the lowest sounds yet attributed to any animal ... In the case of fin whales, the songs are in the form of slow, measured sequences of sounds, which when they were first seen on the very slow moving paper recorders of the early sixties (the paper moved about an inch each hour) were called "blips" because they looked like brief spikes instead of the second-long moans that they are.

    It is hard to imagine a less apt term than "blip" for a twenty-hertz, deep-throated moan lasting a second. However, by being such an entirely inappropriate term it becomes memorable - rather like a dalmatian I once knew named Stripe.

    (Among whales, by Roger Payne)

    June 24, 2008

  • Also used to mean a symbol for something in the dialect used by Ridley in Russel Hoban's 'Ridley Walker'.

    May 26, 2009