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

Definition of bunkum

: insincere or foolish talk : nonsense

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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 But like many others on the right, Peterson is ultimately motivated by an inability to let bunkum prevail unchallenged. Kyle Smith, National Review, "An Introduction to Jordan Peterson," 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, "Why the Short-Lived Pony Express Still Fascinates Us," 23 June 2018 For sixteen seasons, John Elway let all the bunkum bounce off his big shoulders. Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post, "Kiszla: Here’s the real key to Siemian vs. Lynch competition for Broncos quarterback job," 23 May 2017 Or maybe the name was inspired by someone muttering something about a load of bunkum. Janet Eastman, OregonLive.com, "Jump into Buncom ghost town's ragtag Memorial Day Weekend parade (photos)," 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for bunkum

Time Traveler

The first known use of bunkum was in 1838

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Cite this Entry

“Bunkum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bunkum. Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for bunkum


How to pronounce bunkum (audio)

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

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