The phrase “burst your bubble” means to give information to someone that will probably disappoint them. Basically, they receive bad news and it ruins their happy moment, or it destroys their expectations.
Example: Ava was looking forward to our vacation in Paris, but unfortunately, I have to delay the trip to next year. Telling her this is going to burst her bubble, but hopefully she’ll get over it.
The Origin of ‘Burst Your Bubble’
Where does the saying ‘burst your bubble’ come from? Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the origin of this phrase is unknown. However, there is a theory for how it may have originated. We’ll get to that in a second, first, let’s talk about how old this expression is:
From what I’ve seen, the earliest appearance of this phrase in print (with its figurative meaning) is at the end of the 1860s. For example, in the year 1869, it’s written in the Anglo American Times newspaper:
“They actually strove to fasten on the President, and the very Treasury which had designedly burst their bubble, complicity with the design, and so openly, boldly, and circumstantially was this done, that some people were for a moment staggered by the attack on the Executive.”
Where Did The Idiom ‘Burst Your Bubble’ Come From?
Here’s a theory on this idiom’s origin:
This idiom may come from the feeling of disappointment someone experiences after the literal bubbles they blew pop. To elaborate, blowing bubbles is a fun activity kids do with their parents. A common thing to happen during this activity is a little “game” where you try keeping the bubbles floating for as long as possible, especially when there’s one that’s bigger than the rest.
Sooner or later, though, that big bubble you’re trying to keep afloat will crash into something. Be it the ground, a wall, or someone’s finger, that bubble’s gonna pop one way or another. And when it does, the fun is brought to an immediate end. “Aw, I had it floating for so long!” Some disappointment is felt.
This concept is thus applied to other situations where our happy moments are brought to an abrupt end. For example, imagine someone is really excited to see a new movie, but they learn that the tickets are sold out. Their excitement quickly turns to disappointment. “Aw, I really wanted to see it tonight.” It’s as if their bubble was burst.
Note: Finding the meaning to a saying is easy enough. However, when it comes to the origin of many phrases, sometimes its not clear. When a phrase’s origin is unclear, what I usually do is list any theories that talk about how it may have been born. Or I’ll take a guess myself if I feel like my thought is plausible. At the very least, you typically can find the oldest known quote of the phrase in print listed on the page. These quotes give an idea for how old an expression is.
- I hate to burst your bubble, Tim, but I won’t be able to pay you back that $50 I owe you until later this month.
- I was looking forward to playing the new game Afterburner X, but its release was delayed. Hearing that news really burst my bubble.