Printable Version
Pronunciation: bêngk Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (No plural)

Meaning: (US slang) hogwash, baloney, balderdash, poppycock, codswallop, claptrap, humbug, bollocks, drivel, tommyrot, nonsense, gibberish, hooey, horsefeathers, malarkey, twaddle, gobbledygook.

Notes: Bunk is a clipping of bunkum. The Oxford English Dictionary lists two derivatives of this word, a verb bunkumize "to talk bunkum" and a personal noun, bunkumite "someone who talks bunkum", both from the 19th century.

In Play: If you think talking nonsense is a recent phenomenon, look at my sample of all that word's synonyms above! "I do believe Senator Foghorn believes his own bunk!" Washington, DC is home base for bunk, but we find it all around us every day: "Most of what Jess Buncombe tells of his fishing experience is pure bunk."

Word History: During the debates in the U.S. House of Representatives over whether Missouri should be admitted as a slave or free state, on February 25, 1820, North Carolina Representative Felix Walker (1753-1828) began a long, dull, irrelevant speech. He resisted all calls to cut it short by saying he was bound to say something that would appear in the newspapers back home to prove he was doing his job. "I shall not be speaking to the House," he confessed, "but to Buncombe [county]". Buncombe is pronounced bunkum. Bunkum (originally spelled buncombe) was attested in print in 1828. It must have been commonly spoken in Washington before then. (Thanks to another newcomer, Kevin Price, for recommending today's historically fascinating Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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