Burst Your Bubble

Meaning:

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: I know you were looking forward to our trip to Paris. I was looking forward to going too, so I hate to do this, but I have to delay the trip a couple months. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Synonyms / Related Phrases:
Rain on (your) parade
Bearer of bad news

The Origin of ‘Burst Your Bubble’

Where does the saying ‘burst your bubble’ come from? 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, but we’ll get to that in a second.

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 how this idiom originated:

I think it comes from that feeling of disappointment a person experiences after their literal bubbles have popped. To elaborate, let’s say someone is blowing bubbles and their having a fun time. They blow one that’s extra big, so they try keeping it floating in the air for as long as possible since it’s special.

Sooner or later, though, that bubble will crash into something. It might be a wall, the ground, or someone else’s finger. Whatever way it happens, the fun is brought to an end when that bubble pops. The person who blew it might feel a bit disappointed. “Aw, I had it floating for so long!”

This is similar to someone having a good time, but their happy moment is brought to an abrupt end after receiving some disappointing news. For instance, someone’s excited to see a new movie, but they learn that all the tickets have been sold out at the theater, so their excitement quickly turns to disappointment. “Aw, what do you mean the movie is all sold out?” It’s as if their bubble was burst.


Examples:

  1. Timothy, I hate to burst your bubble, but I won’t be able to pay you back that $50 I owe you until later this month.
  2. I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but the tickets for the movie we were excited to see today are all sold out, so we’ll have to go another time.

Note: The origin of many idioms are unknown. Usually in cases like this, a theory will be listed on the page. Or there will be some old quote of the the expression. The purpose of the quote is to give you an idea on how far back in history the expression goes.

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