bombast

noun
bom·bast | \ˈbäm-ˌbast \

Definition of bombast 

: pretentious inflated speech or writing political bombast

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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.

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

Recent Examples on the Web

As a solo artist, Uli Jon Roth’s playing is epic and heroic, unafraid of bombast and ecstatic shredding. John Adamian, courant.com, "Tedeschi Trucks And Jay Critch Are Just Two Of This Week's Must-See Shows," 2 July 2018 The song's a Frankenstein's monster, with limp snippets of bombast and reflection haphazardly stitched together. Eric Renner Brown, Billboard, "Every Song from Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Summer Albums Series, Ranked," 25 June 2018 Chance the Rapper and Kanye West may use gospel elements to give their music a reverent lilt, but the genre hasn’t had many crossover evangelists since Kirk Franklin’s hip-hop bombast brought it to the pop charts in the 1990s. New York Times, "15 Pop, Rock and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 7 June 2018 Thus, the losers are a thirsty audience for Trump’s protectionist bombast. WSJ, "Boosting Industry Isn’t Trump’s Sole Trade Goal," 11 July 2018 Amid the bombast and teasers for games that are months or years away from release, audiences in pre-show sessions across Los Angeles last weekend previewed a quiet game that aims to meditate on crippling depression and suicidal thoughts. Todd Martens, latimes.com, "In a divisive political climate, E3 shows that maybe video games had it right all along," 12 June 2018 Joe Fredo gets across George Wallace's contentious bombast. Theodore P. Mahne, NOLA.com, "'All the Way' a brilliant political drama from Southern Rep," 29 May 2018 Donald Trump responded to both moves with characteristic bombast. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Trump's trade war comes to Wisconsin," 30 June 2018 John Oliver, on his HBO comedy show, recently held up Mr. Pierce as an emblem of the bombast that floats around the virtual currency community. New York Times, "Stephen Bannon Buys Into Bitcoin," 14 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bombast.' 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 bombast

1583, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bombast

earlier, "cotton or other material used as padding or stuffing," extension (with parasitic t) of bombace, bombage, going back to Middle English bombace, borrowed from Anglo-French bombés, bombace, borrowed from Medieval Latin bambac-, bambax, bombax (also banbax, bonbax) "cotton plant, cotton fiber or wadding," borrowed from Middle Greek bámbax, pámbax, going back to a Greek stem pambak- (as in pambakís "item of clothing, probably of cotton"), probably borrowed from Middle Persian pambak "cotton" (or from an unknown source from which both words were borrowed)

Note: At virtually all stages of this etymon's history there has been formal and semantic confusion with Latin bombyx "silk" and its congeners (hence the o in the English, French, and Latin forms; see note at bombazine), though the two words are very likely of distinct origin. The earliest European occurrence of the "cotton" word is pambakís, denoting an item of apparel in an epigram attributed to Myrinus (1st century b.c.e. or earlier) in the Palatine Anthology (VI, 254). In some manuscripts of Dioscorides' treatise on materia medica (1st century c.e.) bambakoeidḗs "cotton-like" is used in the description of a plant (other witnesses give bombykoeidḗs "silklike"). Greek bámbax and pámbax, as well as a derivative, bambákion, are attested in the 10th-century Byzantine encyclopedia Suda/Souda, which cites the epigram by Myrinus (see Suda On Line at www.stoa.org/sol/). The Medieval Latin forms are well attested in texts of the Salerno medical school, as the Tractatus de aegritudinum curatione, part of the now lost Breslau Codex Salernitanus (ca. 1200); see citations under bombyx, sense 2, in the Mittellateinisches Wörterbuch.

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Statistics for bombast

Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for bombast

The first known use of bombast was in 1583

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More Definitions for bombast

bombast

noun

English Language Learners Definition of bombast

: speech or writing that is meant to sound important or impressive but is not sincere or meaningful

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