Although most dictionaries I have looked these verbs up in define them in very much the same way,

to belch: emit wind noisily from the stomach through the mouth

to burp: noisily release air from the stomach through the mouth; belch

(Oxford Online Dictionary)

I feel (from the times I have come across these verbs in reading) that there is a difference between these two verbs. Can a native speaker of English confirm or infirm, and, of course, should they confirm, refine these definitions, although there is nothing refined about it all!

  • 3
    I would say that a belch is more vulgar. A burp can be suppressed, and barely audible. A belch can be a deliberate expression of satisfaction with onesself, or disapproval of others. Jun 10, 2019 at 19:55
  • Yeah, I would tend to agree with Weather Vane. I always connect "belch" with drinking too much beer too fast. Jun 10, 2019 at 20:24
  • 2
    Basically it depends on which term most closely resembles the sound produced.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 10, 2019 at 21:03
  • 1
    Belch means louder, longer, more noticeable. It's a particular type of burp. Jun 11, 2019 at 4:46

1 Answer 1



is an older word.

Old English bealcan "bring up wind from the stomach," also "swell, heave," of echoic origin (compare Dutch balken "to bray, shout"). Extended to volcanoes, cannons, etc. 1570s. Related: Belched; belching. As a noun, "an act of belching," it is recorded from 1510s; also slang for "poor beer, malt liquor" (1706).


Burp is more recent

1932, noun and verb, American English, apparently imitative. The transitive sense of the verb is attested by 1940. Related: Burped; burping. Burp-gun attested from 1945.

An older word from the Latin is probably...

eructation (n.)

"belching," 1530s, from Latin eructationem (nominative eructatio) "a belching forth," noun of action from past participle stem of eructare "to belch forth, vomit," from assimilated form of ex "out" (see ex-) + ructare "to belch," from PIE *reug- "to belch"

As I said in a comment, "belch" is probably related to beer, and its consumption. Most native speakers would relate "belch" to a louder and more vulgar description.

  • And, notably, a "burp" is what a small child produces (though sometimes accompanied by a variable volume of "spit up").
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 10, 2019 at 22:24
  • @HotLicks Absolutely right. After all, we do not say "to belch" the baby. Before there was "to burp the baby" what was there? Jun 10, 2019 at 22:26
  • 1
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 10, 2019 at 22:41
  • 1
    Though, interestingly, "burping" is mainly associated with bottle feeding.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 10, 2019 at 22:45
  • @HotLicks this sounds like a good Q... Jun 10, 2019 at 22:47

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