ho·​kum ˈhō-kəm How to pronounce hokum (audio)
: a device used (as by showmen) to evoke a desired audience response
: pretentious nonsense : bunkum

Examples of hokum in a Sentence

Everyone knows his story is pure hokum. His new film is yet another piece of Hollywood hokum.
Recent Examples on the Web The movie’s ending is shameless hokum — global viewers tearfully applaud Truman’s escape into unspecified reality. Armond White, National Review, 2 Aug. 2023 Starring as an alcoholic onetime hoops star who returns to his alma mater to coach a losing team, Ben Affleck turns in one of his best performances in a drama that manages to buck expectations, avoid formulaic hokum and deliver on a gripping addiction narrative. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 2 June 2023 All the rest is hokum. Terrence Keeley, National Review, 25 Jan. 2023 Miramax started a whisper campaign saying everything good about Saving Private Ryan occurred within the first 15-20 minutes on the beaches of Normandy, and the rest was sentimental hokum. Elizabeth Blackwell, Longreads, 2 Mar. 2023 Five years ago, the Thirty-Two-Hour Workweek Act would have been dismissed as progressive hokum. Cal Newport, The New Yorker, 3 Jan. 2022 First, the name of this blog is Science, not Fiction, which means any religious hokum is right out the door. Kyle Munkittrick, Discover Magazine, 29 Oct. 2010 The appetite for such hokum and narrowness of the judgments against Jones, who falsely claimed that the 2012 elementary school shootings were a hoax and that grieving parents were actors, virtually ensure a ready supply, experts say. David Bauder, Anchorage Daily News, 15 Oct. 2022 Is the hokum a bit thick even in the context of a showmanship special? Jim McKairnes, USA TODAY, 14 Dec. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hokum.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


probably blend of hocus-pocus and bunkum

First Known Use

1906, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hokum was in 1906

Dictionary Entries Near hokum

Cite this Entry

“Hokum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hokum. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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