\ ˈbäm How to pronounce bomb (audio) \

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

Noun 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 Verb 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 Helicopters, boats and bomb-sniffing dogs were deployed to escort Lady Bird’s entourage. Washington Post, "Delving deep into the legacy of Lady Bird Johnson," 9 Apr. 2021 Plus pass through the metal detector and maybe get sniffed by Shamrock, the bomb-sniffing dog. Steve Rubenstein, San Francisco Chronicle, "Hours before first pitch, S.F. Giants fans revel at the chance to see baseball at the ballpark," 9 Apr. 2021 The school was inspected by officials and bomb sniffing dogs. Jessika Harkay,, "Ansonia students sent home after bomb threat Friday morning," 26 Mar. 2021 But the incentives for adopting Mr. Gingrich’s bomb-throwing style have only increased in recent years as primary election voters have gained increasing sway, and social media clout can be parlayed into small-dollar donations. New York Times, "With Disruption and Trolling, Greene Reflects G.O.P.’s Shift," 19 Mar. 2021 Officers from the Butler County Bomb Squad and the Mason Police bomb-detecting K-9 team responded to the scene on March 2 to assist with the investigation, according to police. Wayne Baker, The Enquirer, "Chief: Lebanon bomb threat suspect died following a police pursuit in Dayton last week," 18 Mar. 2021 The group launched eight ballistic missiles and 14 bomb-laden drones at Saudi Arabia, a spokesman for the Houthis, Yahya Saree, said in a statement to Al Masirah television, which is run by the group. Vivian Nereim, Fortune, "Attack on Saudi refinery sends oil prices soaring to 14-month high," 8 Mar. 2021 Considering the use of more bomb-sniffing dogs and perhaps even a resumption of horse patrols, which were discontinued in 2005. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, "Lt. Gen. Honore's Capitol attack report recommends more police, better coordination with National Guard," 8 Mar. 2021 Her leash was held by Adam Davila, who spent fourteen years as an Army Ranger before training as a bomb-sniffing-dog handler. Adam Iscoe, The New Yorker, "Sniffing Out COVID for the Miami Heat," 22 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Adams was an Anniston gas station owner publicly linked to the burning of a bus carrying Freedom Riders, the unsolved murder of Willie Brewster and an unearthed plot to bomb churches and newspapers. al, "Nat King Cole was beaten on a Birmingham stage 65 years ago today," 10 Apr. 2021 The current detention of undocumented minors at the border and the presidential orders to bomb in Syria remind voters that Biden is doing exactly what the now-silent media used to blast Trump for doing. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Trumpism without Trump?," 4 Mar. 2021 In 1941, the British government banned sale of tickets amid rumors that Japan, in advance to entering World War II, was to bomb Allahabad where the Kumbh was slated to take place. Tulasi Srinivas, The Conversation, "India prepares for Kumbh Mela, world’s largest religious gathering, amid COVID-19 fears," 8 Apr. 2021 In 1995, a New York City jury returned guilty verdicts in a seditious conspiracy case against Egyptian cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and nine others for plotting to bomb New York City-area landmarks and tunnels. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "After Oath Keepers charges, could feds accuse Capitol attackers of conspiring to overthrow U.S. government?," 19 Feb. 2021 In many of these segments, Paytm has tried to carpet bomb existing players with lower service costs, discounts, and cashback. Prathamesh Mulye, Quartz, "India’s most-valued unicorn has spread itself too thin," 22 Mar. 2021 Two Navy pilots hatch a rogue mission to bomb Hanoi with a special low-altitude plane. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: ‘An American in Paris’; ‘Ben-Hur’," 26 Mar. 2021 In 2010, for example, on the eve of the U.S. midterm elections, bin Nayef and Aljabri helped American officials thwart a terrorist plot to bomb two airplanes over American cities. Lucien Bruggeman, ABC News, "In wake of Khashoggi report, ex-Saudi spymaster's assassination plot accusation may complicate Riyadh relations," 2 Mar. 2021 So you might be excused for predicting that a standup-comedy show about the impact of global warming on Norfolk’s African-American neighborhoods would bomb. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, "Is There Anything Funny About the Climate Crisis?," 10 Mar. 2021

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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Statistics for bomb

Last Updated

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bomb.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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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
: nuclear weapons
US, informal : 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
informal : to fail completely
US slang : to fail (a test)


\ ˈbäm How to pronounce bomb (audio) \

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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