\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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In exchange Iran, which was on the brink of being about to produce fuel for nuclear bombs, agreed to strict limits on its nuclear program. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "What Happens After Trump Pulls Out of the Iran Deal," 8 May 2018 Her first homer tied the state record for career bombs with 48. John Snodgrass,, "Prospect breakdown: Wagers sets OHSAA record," 28 Apr. 2018 The Air Force exercise will take place 13 miles east of Thunder Bay after 2 p.m. on Monday and will consist of inert bombs being dropped from an aircraft at a high altitude. Deasia Paige, Detroit Free Press, "Bayview Mackinac race, Air Force training exercise could collide," 13 July 2018 For instance, the asteroid that hit over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk — that particular asteroid exploded, and the energy of that explosion was about 30 times the size of the nuclear bomb dropped over Hiroshima. NBC News, "Stopping 'Armageddon': This former astronaut is on a mission to save Earth from deadly asteroids," 10 July 2018 Up stepped Bour, who improved to 5-for-9 with two homers against Miller after his first-inning bomb. Harvey Fialkov, azcentral, "Diamondbacks' Shelby Miller remains positive after rough return against Marlins," 25 June 2018 The insurgents mostly target security forces and government officials, but their roadside bombs often kill civilians. Fox News, "Roadside bomb kills 6 civilians in Afghanistan," 11 June 2018 The situation is so urgent now because a blitz of nuclear and missile tests that last year brought the North Koreans close or past the point of capping an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the US mainland with a nuclear bomb. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "History beckons for Trump and Kim," 11 June 2018 Betts, who’s on the DL with an abdominal injury, is hitting .359/.437/.740 with 17 homers, while Martinez carries a .315/.374/.648 slash line to go with his league-leading 19 bombs. Michael Beller,, "Analyzing the Transformation of Andrew Benintendi's Swing," 7 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In the months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt deemed that loyal Americans, like Kawano, were a threat to the safety and security of the United States and should be locked away for the duration of the war. Ben Joravsky, Chicago Reader, "Locking up Cubs legend Yosh Kawano also got Supreme Court OK," 27 June 2018 Sixteen years later, her life completely changed when the Nazis invaded Poland and bombed her home city, triggering World War II. Andrea Diaz, CNN, "Holocaust survivor who treated Anne Frank in a concentration camp is dead at 95," 11 June 2018 Prince William paid tribute to the 22 people who lost their lives last year when a terrorist bombed an Ariana Grande show at the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017. Dana Rose Falcone,, "Prince William Attends His First Event Since Royal Wedding to Mark Manchester Attack Anniversary," 22 May 2018 While Curry bombed away, Harden and Chris Paul completely lost control of the game’s pace. Ben Golliver,, "James Harden’s Reputation Hangs on His Response to Steph Curry’s ‘Haymaker’," 21 May 2018 McVeigh went to Waco, Texas, to witness the standoff between federal agents and the Branch Davidians, and in 1995, bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. Leah Sottile, Longreads, "Bundyville Chapter Three: A Clan Not to Cross," 17 May 2018 When, for example, the Republican stronghold of Guernica was bombed to ruin in 1937 (the subject of Picasso’s famous antiwar painting), the assault was carried out at Franco’s request by warplanes that Hitler and Mussolini had dispatched. Matías Costa, Smithsonian, "The Battle Over the Memory of the Spanish Civil War," 28 June 2018 Other colleagues recalled the years during Haspel's early career when the former Mujahideen were returning from Afghanistan, terrorists were operating throughout Africa, and the USS Cole was bombed -- and Soviet influence was beginning to wane. Jenna Mclaughlin, CNN, "How Gina Haspel's tough approach to terrorism prepared her to become America's top spy," 17 May 2018 In 2015, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia began bombing the Houthis, who have responded by firing missiles into the kingdom., "US special forces secretly help Saudis fight Yemeni rebels," 3 May 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bomb

Dictionary Entries near bomb








Statistics for bomb

Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bomb

The first known use of bomb was in 1662

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


by force of circumstances

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!