bunkum

[19] Buncombe is a county of North Carolina, USA. Around 1820, during a debate in the US Congress, its representative Felix Walker rose to make a speech. He spoke on – and on – and on. Fellow congressmen pleaded with him to sit down, but he refused to be deflected, declaring that he had to make a speech ‘for Buncombe’. Most of what he said was fatuous and irrelevant, and henceforth bunkum (or buncombe, as it was at first spelled) became a term for political windbagging intended to ingratiate the speaker with the voters rather than address the real issues. It early passed into the more general sense ‘nonsense, claptrap’. Its abbreviated form, bunk, is 20th-century; it was popularized by Henry Ford’s remark ‘History is more or less bunk’, made in 1916. Of the other English words bunk, ‘bed’ [19] is probably short for bunker, which first appeared in 16th-century Scottish English, meaning ‘chest, box’; while bunk as in do a bunk and bunk off [19] is of unknown origin.

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bunkum — Bun kum, n. See {Buncombe}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bunkum — index rodomontade Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • bunkum — variant of BUNCOMBE (Cf. Buncombe) …   Etymology dictionary

  • bunkum — (also buncombe) ► NOUN informal, dated ▪ nonsense. ORIGIN named after Buncombe County in North Carolina, mentioned in a speech made by its congressman solely to please his constituents (c.1820) …   English terms dictionary

  • bunkum — ☆ bunkum [buŋ′kəm ] n. [phonetic respelling of BUNCOMBE] Informal talk that is empty, insincere, or merely for effect; humbug …   English World dictionary

  • Bunkum — Buncombe Bun combe, Bunkum Bun kum, n. [Buncombe a county of North Carolina.] Speech making for the gratification of constituents, or to gain public applause; flattering talk for a selfish purpose; anything said for mere show. [Cant or Slang, U.S …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bunkum — [[t]bʌ̱ŋkəm[/t]] N UNCOUNT (disapproval) If you say that something that has been said or written is bunkum, you mean that you think it is completely untrue or very stupid. [INFORMAL, OLD FASHIONED] It s a load of bunkum. Syn: balderdash …   English dictionary

  • bunkum — AND buncombe [“barjkam] n. onsense. □ That’s just plain bunkum. □ Another candidate for governor means just that much more buncombe …   Dictionary of American slang and colloquial expressions

  • bunkum — [19] Buncombe is a county of North Carolina, USA. Around 1820, during a debate in the US Congress, its representative Felix Walker rose to make a speech. He spoke on – and on – and on. Fellow congressmen pleaded with him to sit down, but he… …   Word origins

  • bunkum — n. (also buncombe) nonsense; humbug. Etymology: orig. buncombe f. Buncombe County in N. Carolina, mentioned in a nonsense speech by its Congressman, c.1820 * * * bunkum etc.: see buncombe, etc …   Useful english dictionary

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