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I hear sometimes that when someone want other people to leave, they say Bounce. And I recently heard that someone said "I'll bounce" when they wanted to leave (nobody asked them to).

So my question is: Bounce always has a negative sense or it depends on the context?

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It depends on the context. A person might tell his group of friends "let's bounce" to indicate that it's simply time to go somewhere else. It doesn't necessarily mean that the current venue is unsatisfactory. – Zairja Sep 17 '12 at 15:46
The (probably apocryphal) exchange between a pilot and air traffic control suggest possibly not: PILOT "This is chrome-plated stove pipe niner triple-nickel eight ball, five in the slot, boots on and laced, and I want your go to bounce and blow": AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL "Roger, you've got the nod to hit the sod." – Brian Hooper Sep 17 '12 at 21:19
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Bounce is only negative when it is used transitively on a person:

  • 1885 Milnor (Dakota) Teller 5 June 5/2 ― Tuller, Judge Hudson’s imported clerk of the court at Lisbon, is likely to be bounced, and Hugh Doherty appointed.
  • 1893 O. Thanet Stories Western Town 213 ― You don’t suppose it would be any use to offer Esther a cool hundred thousand to promise to bounce this young fellow?

When it is used intransitively, it is just fine:

  • 1851 Helps Comp. Solit. iv. (1874) 45 ― The market-gardener’s wife, little attended to, bounces out of the room.
  • 1883 Ld. Saltoun Scraps I. iii. 264 ― The innkeeper’s wife bounced into the room.

(Citations from the OED.)

The contemporary intransitive use of bounce as in leave, scram, beat it, vamoose, take off, skedaddle is also perfectly non-negative.

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Bounce simply means to go - it's a slang term. It doesn't have specific negative connotations. You can bounce to or from somewhere, though unless you say where you're going to bounce to, it means you're leaving.

Here's some citations from wonderfully dubious sources:

Urban Dictionary


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Like @Robin Michael, I'd never noticed this usage before, but here's a couple of instances in print where it seems pretty clear to me "let's bounce" means "Let's go". But in those contexts it could equally be paraphrased as "Let's split", which tends to imply negative connotations for the current location. – FumbleFingers Sep 17 '12 at 20:32

The metaphor of course is that of a ball that never stays still in the same place.

Socialites priding themselves in being in such high demand that they can't stay too long at your place will use this expression to convey the idea.

By extension, it is therefore a diplomatic way of cutting one's visit short - the implicit idea being "I'd love to stay but I can't, as I've got more obligations for tonight. Sorry!". This is I believe, the meaning in the context you outline.

When employed in a group instead, "Bounce" means "I'm getting bored, let's move on to some other place!" So yes it's slightly negative.

Another way to picture it is to parallel people calling themselves party monkeys with a real party of monkeys bouncing from branch to branch swiftly snatching whatever fruit hangs around on the run.

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I have never heard of someone saying 'bounce' when they are about to leave.

'Bounder' is an old fashioned expression for someone who breaks the rules. This comes from going 'out of bounds' in a public school.

There is another word 'bumped' when someone is prevented from doing something. In context this would be 'bumped off a flight'.

Bumped Off a Flight? Know Your Travel Rights


A person can be bounced into agreeing something that they would not otherwise go along with.

Phrasal Verb: Bounce into


Meaning: Force someone


Example: They have BOUNCED the government INTO calling an early election.


A 'bouncer' works at a nightclub, preventing trouble either on the door or in the club.

A person employed by an establishment to prevent troublemakers from entering or to eject them from the premises.


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