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.

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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 — [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… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • 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 — 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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