On the bubble

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On the bubble means poised on the precipice of either success or failure, the phrase is usually applied to sports situations. On the bubble is an American phrase that originated in the 1970s in reference to the Indianapolis 500 automobile race. On the bubble might refer to the fact that the day that racers run their qualifying races is known as either bump day or bubble day. On the bubble might also refer to the bubble of air in a carpenter’s level. In any case, the idiom on the bubble has spread to describing critical success/failure points in other sports and other events in society.


“This was a sport that was on the bubble of being removed from the 2016 Olympic Games, and it was a wakeup call for the entire amateur wrestling community across the world,” said Bayer’s co-director, Mark Dollins. (The Post and Courier)

“I was on the bubble to make it out of the regional so I just said whatever and was just going to go for it,” Reynolds noted. (The Greene County Daily World)

Before the school year started, Valbuena was given a list of 231 students who were, as Cruz put it, “on the bubble” – low-income students with B averages and decent SAT scores. (The Houston Chronicle)

The freshman laugher was one of several shows on the bubble going into upfront week that begins Monday in New York. (Entertainment Weekly)

The fate of NBC’s The Carmichael Show — which remains on the bubble — remains unclear as talks for season two continue through the weekend. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Nashville‘s writers and production bosses knew when they filmed the finale episode that the show was on the bubble, and they tied up virtually all loose ends in the finale: Maddie is back at home with Deacon and Rayna, Scarlett and Gunnar are a couple, Will and his ex reconcile, Juliette and Avery are in a good place, and Layla is on the way to getting the country stardom she’s craved. (Forbes Magazine)