\ 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

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

City Hall was closed for about one hour on July 2 after someone made several phone calls to the city attorney’s office claiming a bomb would explode in the building., "Portland City Hall evacuated for 2nd time this month after possible threat reported," 15 July 2019 Spring break has brought its normal chaos to Neptune, and things get worse when a bomb goes off at a seaside hotel, prompting fears of a serial killer. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Veronica Mars' Season 4: TV Review," 15 July 2019 One wall is stenciled with a hail of bombs and a helicopter— references to Hawaii’s military ties. Jenna Sauers, Harper's BAZAAR, "Indigenous Female Artists Take Center Stage in Hawaii," 12 July 2019 The Broward Sheriff’s Office bomb and arson unit joined state fire marshals at the scene. Anchorage Daily News, "At least 20 hurt in explosion at South Florida shopping center," 6 July 2019 Presidents since Ronald Reagan, including Obama and Trump, have followed up threats with bombs on myriad occasions. Andrew J. Bacevich, Twin Cities, "Andrew Bacevich: Trump’s reluctance to bomb foreign countries is a strength, not a sign of weakness," 4 July 2019 In 1951, as Noble drove up to his mailbox, a bomb exploded and killed him, according to a 1991 Texas Monthly story titled Benny and the Boys. Dallas News, "Palatial estate with ties to Dallas' infamous gambling past goes on market for $3.7 million," 27 June 2019 As children die, millions migrate and bombs explode, India’s new parliament spends its first day shouting and debating slogans, whether in praise of Ram, Allah, Bheem, Bangla, Hindustan, Inquilab or Mamta. Samar Halarnkar, Quartz India, "India’s battling one crisis after another, but parliament and media are obsessed with the irrelevant," 24 June 2019 That could happen at any moment in Iraq, a dangerous place where bombs go off all the time and there are many American forces and Iranian proxies walking around. Paul Waldman, The Denver Post, "Waldman: How Trump may get manipulated into war with Iran," 19 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Many in the crowd took selfies, including Antetokounmpo, who called up his three brothers to the stage, held up his phone and snapped a pic as excited photo-bombing fans waved and hooted. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Giannis Antetokounmpo shows off MVP trophy to thousands of excited Bucks fans," 14 July 2019 Meanwhile, experts fear a miscalculation in the crisis could explode into open conflict, as Mr. Trump already has nearly bombed Iran over Tehran shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone. CBS News, "Iran ignores Trump's warning, breaks another nuclear deal limit on uranium enrichment," 8 July 2019 In stoppage time, Chicago forward Sam Kerr picked off a pass in the midfield, saw that the keeper had floated up and bombed a long-range shot on the open goal. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando Pride gears up for home stand against Washington Spirit," 6 July 2019 The fundamentalists who shot and bombed innocents and openly assassinated fellow Sikhs are now being reconstructed as peaceful activists. Ali Kazimi, Quartz India, "A Canadian artist is keeping the embers of Sikh separatism alive with false equivalences," 27 June 2019 A year before, Bolton had written an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing that President Trump should bomb and invade North Korea rather than give negotiation a chance. Tyler Bellstrom, The New Republic, "Fire John Bolton," 22 June 2019 The news is filled with scary stories, like a tourist bus being bombed near Egypt’s pyramids, people being knifed at a bus stop in Japan, and continuing coverage of the two Boeing 737 Max air crashes, both of which happened overseas. Jay L. Zagorsky, Quartz, "It’s more dangerous to live in America than to travel abroad," 12 June 2019 This would give the subsonic attack jet the range to strike distant targets, perhaps bombing enemy air defenses to allow manned jets to slip through. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Russia’s First Autonomous Strike Drone Will Fly This Summer," 5 June 2019 The journey of fewer than 400 miles took 16 days because Allied planes had bombed bridges. Chris Kenning, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky vet captured during D-Day invasion 75 years ago to receive France's highest honor," 29 May 2019

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

20 Jul 2019

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
: 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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on bomb

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bomb

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bomb

Spanish Central: Translation of bomb

Nglish: Translation of bomb for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bomb for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about bomb

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).


something desired as essential

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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!