Definition of bombast
: pretentious inflated speech or writing political bombast
bombast was our Word of the Day on 05/04/2009. Hear the podcast!
Examples of bombast in a Sentence
the other world leaders at the international conference had little interest in being subjected to the president's bombast
you need less bombast and more substance in this speech on human rights
Did You Know?
The original meaning of "bombast" (now obsolete) is "cotton or any soft fibrous material used as padding or stuffing." It is derived through Middle French bombace, from Medieval Latin bombax, which means "cotton." "Bombax" in turn comes from "bombyx," a Latin and ultimately Greek word that means "silkworm" or "silk." Etymologists aren't certain why the shift from silk to cotton occurred, though one source attributes it to an error going back to the Roman scholar Pliny, who had reported that cotton was produced by an insect analogous to the silkworm. "Bombast" has been retained in modern English because it took on a figurative sense used in reference to speech or writing. Thus the basic sense of "stuffing or padding" has survived, but now the stuffing consists of words rather than cotton.
Origin and Etymology of bombast
Middle English bombast cotton padding, from Middle French bombace, from Medieval Latin bombac-, bombax cotton, alteration of Latin bombyc-, bombyx silkworm, silk, from Greek bombyk-, bombyx
First Known Use: 1583
BOMBAST Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of bombast for English Language Learners
: speech or writing that is meant to sound important or impressive but is not sincere or meaningful
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up bombast? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).