bun·​kum | \ ˈbəŋ-kəm How to pronounce bunkum (audio) \
variants: or buncombe

Definition of bunkum

: insincere or foolish talk : nonsense

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

Some words in our language have more colorful histories than others, but in the case of bunkum, you could almost say it was an act of Congress that brought the word into being. Back in 1820 Felix Walker, who represented Buncombe County, North Carolina, in the U.S. House of Representatives, was determined that his voice be heard on his constituents' behalf, even though the matter up for debate was irrelevant to Walker's district and he had little to contribute. To the exasperation of his colleagues, Walker insisted on delivering a long and wearisome "speech for Buncombe." His persistent-if insignificant-harangue made buncombe (later respelled bunkum) a synonym for meaningless political claptrap and later for any kind of nonsense.

Examples of bunkum in a Sentence

What a load of bunkum! a cinematic depiction of the Middle Ages that was derided as pure bunkum by historians
Recent Examples on the Web Reich makes $300,000 a year teaching anti-capitalist bunkum to impressionable young minds — on top of at least $40,000 per hour giving speeches around the country. David Harsanyi, National Review, 5 May 2021 But like many others on the right, Peterson is ultimately motivated by an inability to let bunkum prevail unchallenged. Kyle Smith, National Review, 30 Oct. 2019 Almost no records survived, though, so the history of the Pony Express is littered with impostors, inaccuracies, and plain bunkum. National Geographic, 23 June 2018 For sixteen seasons, John Elway let all the bunkum bounce off his big shoulders. Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post, 23 May 2017 Or maybe the name was inspired by someone muttering something about a load of bunkum. Janet Eastman, OregonLive.com, 21 May 2017

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

1838, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bunkum

Buncombe county, North Carolina; from a remark made by its congressman, who defended an irrelevant speech by claiming that he was speaking to Buncombe

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bunkum

Listen to Our Podcast about bunkum

Statistics for bunkum

Last Updated

18 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bunkum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bunkum. Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for bunkum



English Language Learners Definition of bunkum

old-fashioned + informal : foolish or untrue words or ideas

More from Merriam-Webster on bunkum

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bunkum

Britannica English: Translation of bunkum for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Dog Breeds

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!