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



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  • 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