Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Bombast

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is bombast. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Bombast refers to speech or writing that is meant to sound important or impressive but that is not sincere or meaningful.

// The other world leaders at the international conference had little interest in being subjected to the host president’s bombast.

BOMBAST in Context

“… this sprawling German-language adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic WWI novel All Quiet on the Western Front is a film that feels both aesthetically dazzling and full of necessary truths: an antiwar drama that transcends the bombast of propaganda mostly just because it’s so artfully and indelibly made.” — Leah Greenblatt Entertainment Weekly, 28 Oct. 2022

Did You Know?

Bombast settled softly into English in the mid-late 16th century as a textile term used to refer to cotton or other soft fibrous material used as padding or stuffing (its ultimate source is likely Middle Persian pambak, meaning “cotton”), but within a decade it had extended from literal stuffing to figurative stuffing, referring to speech or writing that is padded with pretentious verbiage. The adjective bombastic, which followed bombast a century later, has been a favorite choice to describe blowhardsboasters, and cockalorums ever since.

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