\ ˈbäm \

Definition of bomb 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an explosive device fused to detonate under specified conditions

b : atomic bomb also : nuclear weapons in general usually used with the

2 : a vessel for compressed gases: such as

a : a pressure vessel for conducting chemical experiments

b : a container for an aerosol (such as an insecticide) : spray can

3 : a rounded mass of lava exploded from a volcano

4 : a lead-lined container for radioactive material

5 : failure, flop the play was a bomb

6 British : a large sum of money

7a British : a great success : hit

b slang : one that is striking or extraordinary used with the their new album is the bomb

8a : a long pass in football

b : a very long shot (as in basketball) shooting 3-point bombs also : home run

9 : something unexpected and unpleasant often used with drop dropped a bomb with her resignation


bombed; bombing; bombs

Definition of bomb (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to attack with or as if with bombs : bombard The planes successfully bombed their target. a bombed village

2a : to defeat decisively

b baseball : to score many runs against (a pitcher) Allen tried a new slider pitch without success and was bombed in Cincinnati. —Jack Lang

3 : to hit (a ball, puck, or shot) very hard bomb a home run bomb a long drive down the fairway

4 slang : to fail (a test) I bombed my history exam.

intransitive verb

1 informal : to fall flat : to fail completely The movie bombed at the box office. a joke that bombed

2 informal : to move rapidly a car bombing down the hill

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Other words from bomb


bombing noun
The city was subjected to heavy bombing during the war. suicide bombings

Examples of bomb in a Sentence


A bomb went off downtown. Many bombs were dropped on the city during the war. They hid a bomb in the building. countries that have the bomb


The city was heavily bombed during the war. The planes flew 200 miles to bomb their target. The movie bombed at the box office. The play bombed on Broadway. He bombed at his first performance. I completely bombed my math exam. A car was bombing down the highway. teenagers bombing around in a convertible
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

On Wednesday, a roadside bomb struck a vehicle in Farah’s Khak-e Safad district, killing five civilians, including two women and a small child. Washington Post, "Afghan officials: Taliban kill at least 15 troops, 4 police," 12 July 2018 Abdul Agha, 33, lost his right arm and both eyes in eastern Logar province when his convoy hit a roadside bomb three years ago. Rahim Faiez, Fox News, "Peace in Afghanistan more elusive as Taliban shrug off talks," 11 July 2018 The film’s fictional story about a series of terrorist bombs set off in New York became even more resonant after 9/11. Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: The Prescient Political Films of 1998," 27 June 2018 But as her housemate points out, these letters are very much their own kind of bomb, and end up doing a lot more damage than Ofglen’s literal explosion a few episodes back. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 9: Luke and Nick Just Met and I Cannot Deal," 13 June 2018 British and American warplanes pummelled the country with 1.5 million tonnes of bombs that killed 600,000 people. Houston Chronicle, "Mystifying mood swings happen without warning," 1 June 2018 In her speech, Wambach dropped a series of data bombs about the gender pay gap that emphasized its long-term cost for women., "Abby Wambach To Barnard Grads: Don't Be Grateful, Be Wolves," 29 May 2018 Photographer Sarah is eager to return to work after being injured by a roadside bomb, while her partner, James, who has suffered an emotional breakdown, is pondering a more conventional life than his job as a war correspondent allows. Greg Crawford, Detroit Free Press, "Plan your weekend: Art Birmingham, CCS student exhibit, 'Company' at the Ringwald," 9 May 2018 So is that of Marine veteran Jason Poole, who stepped on a roadside bomb in Iraq in June 2004 and was severely injured by shrapnel. Pam Kragen,, "Film a chronicle of Carlsbad teen's recovery," 9 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Countless musicians lay in their graves, buried under their houses which had been bombed to the ground. Maija Liuhto, Longreads, "A Music So Beautiful the Birds Fell from the Trees," 28 June 2018 After the USS Cole was bombed in Yemen, Hinkle was assigned to the ship’s security detail. Alyson Ward, Houston Chronicle, "Military veterans walk through Houston this weekend to raise money, awareness for mental health," 23 June 2018 Anchorage photographer Jeff Schultz and other guests of the Katmai Wilderness Lodge watched as a brown bear sow climbed into an eagle's nest and was dive-bombed by four eagles. Anchorage Daily News, "Katmai National Park drama: Bear vs. Eagles," 16 June 2018 The point of her pantomime seemed to be that even getting bombed was better than being hidden under a burka. Rafia Zakaria, The New Republic, "The Feminist Future of Modesty," 12 June 2018 Yet the fact that Qaddafi was later bombed from power by a NATO intervention, dragged from his hiding place by insurgents, sodomised with a bayonet and shot dead, made Mr Bolton’s choice of precedent complicated. The Economist, "John Bolton, the world’s hope," 31 May 2018 So that civilians are longer bombed by the Russians or the Syrian dictator. Holly Otterbein,, "A Q&A Larry Arata, a teacher who ran for Congress to fight the opioid crisis | #PA5," 14 May 2018 Researchers have only recently started to delve into historical documents to track down areas that were disproportionately bombed in an effort to warn construction companies which zones are high risk. The Washington Post,, "Unexploded WWII bomb forces mass evacuation in Berlin," 20 Apr. 2018 But the set ends up far more than the sum of its parts, thanks to Björk’s bubbling-over persona and trademark ascending, emotionally carpet-bombing vocal performances. William Goodman, Billboard, "Bjork's 'Debut': An Art-Pop Masterpiece Turns 25," 5 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bomb.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bomb


1662, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1688, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for bomb


borrowed from Spanish or Italian bomba or French bombe, all probably in part from an onomatopoeic base bomb- (as in Greek bómbos "booming, humming," Old Norse bumba "drum," Lithuanian bambėti "to mutter, mumble," Albanian bumbullin "it is thundering"), in part back-formation from Medieval Latin bombardus or Middle French bombarde bombard entry 1

Note: The origin and transmission of bomba, bombe, etc., in the sense "explosive device, projectile, etc.," among European languages is not certain. Bomba is attested earliest in Spanish, appearing several times in the second half of the 16th century (canto 18 of La Araucana of Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga, the Descripción general de África of Luis del Mármol, the Historia de las cosas…del Gran Reyno de la China of Juan González de Mendoza). Mendoza's book (1585) is the source of an early and aberrant instance of bomb in English: his bombas de fuego is rendered as "bomes of fire" in Robert Parke's translation (The Historie of the Great and Mightie Kingdome of China, London, 1588, p. 65). Bomba is recorded as Italian in Antoine Oudin's Italian-French dictionary (Recherches italiennes et françoises, Paris, 1640), where it is glossed "bombe, ou balon de feu" ("bomb, or ball of fire"), though it is not recorded in an Italian text until 1686 (Paolo Segneri, Il cristiano instruito, Florence, p. 327); Oudin's gloss also apparently constitutes the first record in French. Significantly earlier than any of these is Latin bombus, which occurs twice in the Commentarii, an account of the exploits of the condottiere Jacopo Piccinino in 1452-53 by the Neapolitan humanist Giannantonio de' Pandone, "il Porcellio" (ca. 1405-85); Pandone's bombus appears to be some sort of exploding projectile ("Hic Tibertus Dux bombi fulmine in ulna sauciatur" - "Here Tibertus [the condottiere Tiberto Brandolini] was wounded in the forearm by the flash of a bombus"); the 18th-century lexicographer Du Cange, in Glossarium mediae et infimae Latinitatis, glosses bombus in this passage, alluding to French bombe, as pila incendiaria, "fireball." Spanish bomba in the sense "pump," attested from the early 16th century, is probably an independent formation; cf. pump entry 1.


derivative of bomb entry 1

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Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for bomb

The first known use of bomb was in 1662

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More Definitions for bomb



English Language Learners Definition of bomb

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a device that is designed to explode in order to injure or kill people or to damage or destroy property

the bomb : nuclear weapons

: something that is a complete failure



English Language Learners Definition of bomb (Entry 2 of 2)

: to attack (a place or people) with a bomb or many bombs

: to fail completely

: to fail (a test)


\ ˈbäm \

Kids Definition of bomb

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a hollow case or shell filled with explosive material

2 : a container in which something (as an insecticide) is stored under pressure and from which it is released in a fine spray

3 : something that is a complete failure The new movie was a bomb.


bombed; bombing

Kids Definition of bomb (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to attack with bombs

2 : to fail completely His comedy act bombed.

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Comments on bomb

What made you want to look up bomb? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

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