Meaning of BOUND in English


I. bound 1 /baʊnd/ BrE AmE

the past tense and past participle of ↑ bind

II. bound 2 S2 W3 BrE AmE adjective [no comparative]

[ Sense 1-3, 5-11: Date: 1300-1400 ; Origin: From the past participle of ⇨ ↑ bind 1 ]

[ Sense 4: Date: 1500-1600 ; Language: Old Norse ; Origin: buinn , past participle of bua 'to live in a place, prepare' ; probably influenced by the past participle bound ]

1 . LIKELY be bound to to be very likely to do or feel a particular thing:

Don’t lie to her. She’s bound to find out.

it is bound to be (=used to say that something should have been expected)

‘It’s hot!’ ‘Well, it was bound to be – I just took it out of the oven.’

When you are dealing with so many patients, mistakes are bound to happen.


Bound to is used mainly in spoken English. In written English, people usually use certain to, it is inevitable that instead:

▪ Mistakes are bound to happen. ➔ It is inevitable that mistakes will happen.

2 . LAW/AGREEMENT be bound (by something) to be forced to do what a law or agreement says you must do ⇨ binding

bound (by something) to do something

The Foundation is bound by the treaty to help any nation that requests aid.

You are legally bound to report the accident.

3 . DUTY be/feel bound to do something to feel that you ought to do something, because it is morally right or your duty to do it:

Ian felt bound to tell Joanna the truth.

Well, I’m bound to say (=I feel I ought to say) , I think you’re taking a huge risk.

be duty bound/honour bound to do something

A son is duty bound to look after his mother.

4 . TRAVELLING TOWARDS bound for London/Mexico etc ( also London-bound/Mexico-bound etc ) travelling towards a particular place or in a particular direction:

a plane bound for Somalia

We tried to get seats on a Rome-bound flight.

homeward-bound (=travelling towards home) commuters


All eastbound trains have been cancelled due to faulty signals.

5 . RELATIONSHIP be bound (together) by something if two people or groups are bound together by something, they share a particular experience or situation that causes them to have a relationship ⇨ unite :

The two nations were bound together by a common history.

6 . be bound up in something to be very involved in something, so that you cannot think about anything else:

He was too bound up in his own problems to listen to mine.

7 . be bound up with something to be very closely connected with a particular problem or situation:

Mark’s problems are all bound up with his mother’s death when he was ten.

The people of Transkei began to realize that their future was inseparably bound up with that of South Africa.

8 . snow-bound/strike-bound/tradition-bound etc controlled or limited by something, so that you cannot do what you want or what other people want you to:

a fog-bound airport

people who are wheelchair-bound

a desk-bound sergeant (=having to work in an office, instead of doing a more active job)

9 . a bound book is covered on the outside with paper, leather etc ⇨ bind

bound in

a Bible bound in leather

a leather-bound volume of Shakespeare’s plays

10 . I’ll be bound old-fashioned used when you are very sure that what you have just said is true:

He had good reasons for doing that, I’ll be bound.

11 . bound and determined American English very determined to do or achieve something, especially something difficult:

Klein is bound and determined to win at least five races this year.

III. bound 3 BrE AmE verb

[ Sense 1: Date: 1500-1600 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: bondir , from Vulgar Latin bombitire 'to hum' , from Latin bombus ; ⇨ ↑ bomb 1 ]

[ Sense 2: Date: 1500-1600 ; Origin: ⇨ ↑ bound 4 (1) ]

1 . [intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to run with a lot of energy, because you are happy, excited, or frightened

bound up/towards/across etc

Suddenly a huge dog came bounding towards me.

2 . be bounded by something if a country or area of land is bounded by something such as a wall, river etc, it has the wall etc at its edge ⇨ boundary :

a yard bounded by a wooden fence

The US is bounded in the north by Canada and in the south by Mexico.

IV. bound 4 BrE AmE noun

[ Sense 1-2, 4-5: Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: bodne , from Medieval Latin bodina ]

[ Sense 3, 6: Date: 1500-1600 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: bond , from bondir ; ⇨ ↑ bound 3 (2) ]

1 . bounds [plural]

a) the limits of what is possible or acceptable

within the bounds of something

We are here to make sure that the police operate within the bounds of the law.

be/go beyond the bounds of credibility/reason/decency etc

The humor in the movie sometimes goes beyond the bounds of good taste.

be within/beyond the bounds of possibility (=be possible/not possible)

It was not beyond the bounds of possibility that they could meet again.

b) old-fashioned the edges of a town, city etc

2 . out of bounds if a place is out of bounds, you are not allowed to go there SYN off-limits American English

out of bounds to/for

The path by the railway line is officially out of bounds to both cyclists and walkers.

3 . by leaps and bounds/in leaps and bounds British English if someone or something increases, develops etc by leaps and bounds, they increase etc very quickly:

Julie’s reading is improving in leaps and bounds.

4 . know no bounds formal if someone’s honesty, kindness etc knows no bounds, they are extremely honest etc

5 . in bounds/out of bounds inside or outside the legal playing area in a sport such as American football or ↑ basketball

6 . [countable] a long or high jump made with a lot of energy

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.