What Does Bounce Something Around Mean?

Bounce Something Around Meaning

Definition: To discuss ideas.

When having a discussion, people will suggest many different ideas. When ideas are moving around quickly, it is as if people are throwing these ideas at each other. Because people are discussing the ideas quickly, none of the ideas is caught or stick right away. Instead, it is as if the ideas are bouncing around from person to person.

In this phrase, you can imagine ideas being represented by a ball that is tossed back and forth among participants in the discussion.

Origin of Bounce Something Around

bounced around ideasThere is no specific origin story for this idiom. It is more recent than many others, coming into popular use in the mid-1900s.

A 1956 newspaper included the following lines, which describe the metaphor underlying the idiom,

  • Ideas have much in common with rubber balls. The way they bounce depends on where they start from; the force with which they were thrown, dropped, tossed, or pushed; the character of the surface on which they hit; the ‘texture’ of the ball or idea itself, the ambient temperature in which the bounce takes place. All of these influence the bounce of a ball – and the rebound of an idea. —Norman G. Shidle

Examples of Bounce Something Around

bouncing ideas around“Can I bounce this idea off you?” is a common question meaning, “Can I tell you my idea and get your feedback?” People might ask this to their bosses, business partners, or even friends.

“Let’s bounce some ideas around about the party,” someone might say to their co-planners for an upcoming party. This would mean they are going to think through several ideas about where to have the party, what to do at the party, what kind of food to have at the party, etc. They may not make any definitive decisions, but they will discuss several ideas.

Any discussion from bouncing around ideas may involve denying ideas, accepting ideas, or slating some for changes.

More Examples

  • There are times that I miss the chance to bounce ideas around with colleagues at the “water cooler…” –New York Times
  • If you have a site that’s for employees only, you can post important internal information and also give employees a reason to come back. Keep the site seeded with the current weather, a joke-of-the-day, the cafeteria’s daily menu (if applicable) and a “staff chat” area where employees can bounce ideas around. –Houston Chronicle


The phrase to bounce something around is to discuss it and give feedback.