Intermediate+ Word of the Day: budge

budge (verb) /bʌdʒ/ LISTEN

We pushed the car but it wouldn't budge.

Budge is a verb that means to move slightly. In everyday conversation it means to make room for someone else, and informally, it also means to change your opinion or somebody else’s.

Example sentences

  • I've been stuck in traffic for hours; none of the cars is budging an inch!
  • Tom was so proud that he wouldn't budge, even after realizing he was wrong.

Words often used with budge

In the UK the phrasal verbs budge up and budge over are used informally to mean ‘move to make room for someone.’ Example: “The kids budged up to let their two friends in the car.” “Budge over a bit, will you? I’ve got hardly any room here.”

In pop culture

Listen to The Temptations singing “Slow Down Heart.” Listen out for the lyric “When my heart started pounding, (heart started pounding, like a) Like a, mallet of a judge, I couldn’t budge (I couldn’t budge).”

Did you know?

In some parts of the US, it is common to hear children use budge in the sense of going in front of someone in a line, although in the UK they say “push in front of you.” In other parts of the US, this sense of budge is not well-known at all. Another slightly childish way to say this in the US is that someone “cut in front of you.” People would understand “cut in front” in the UK too, but it’s more common there to say that someone “pushed in front of you.” Example: “I waited in line for the bus, but a man cut in front of me and got the last free seat!” Also don’t forget that US speakers say “line” and UK speakers say “queue.”

Commonly confused with

Budge is very close to the English word budget, in terms of spelling and pronunciation, but they have completely different meanings.

Origin

Budge, meaning ‘to move,’ ‘stir,’ ‘change position’ or ‘give way,’ dates back to the late 16th century, around 1580. The transitive sense, ‘to change the position of something,’ appeared soon after (in the 1590s). It came into English from the Middle French bougier (to move or stir), and can be traced back to the Vulgar Latin bullicare (‘to bubble or boil,’ and figuratively, ‘to be in motion’), the Latin bullire (to boil), and ultimately the Proto-Indo-European beu– (to swell). Budge is related, therefore, to the French bouger (to move, change position or budge), the Spanish bullir (to move about or bustle) and the Portuguese bulir (to move a thing from its place), as well as the English words boil and boast.

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