bombast

noun bom·bast \ ˈbäm-ˌbast \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of bombast

: pretentious inflated speech or writing
  • political bombast

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Examples of bombast in a Sentence

  1. the other world leaders at the international conference had little interest in being subjected to the president's bombast

  2. you need less bombast and more substance in this speech on human rights

Recent Examples of bombast from the Web

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.

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

earlier, "cottonorothermaterialusedaspaddingorstuffing," 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) "cottonplant,cottonfiberorwadding," borrowed from Middle Greek bámbax, pámbax, going back to a Greek stem pambak- (as in pambakís "itemofclothing,probablyofcotton"), 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.

BOMBAST Defined for English Language Learners

bombast

noun

Definition of bombast for English Language Learners

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



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of very fine texture or delicate form

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