from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Empty or insincere talk; claptrap.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. senseless talk; nonsense; a piece of nonsense (countable)
  • n. any bombastic political posturing or an oratorical display not accompanied by conviction; speechmaking designed for show or public applause.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. See buncombe.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. See buncombe.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. unacceptable behavior (especially ludicrously false statements)


After Buncombe, a county of western North Carolina, from a remark made around 1820 by its congressman, who felt obligated to give a dull speech "for Buncombe”.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1830s, from buncombe, from “speaking to Buncombe” (or “for Buncombe”) from Buncombe County, North Carolina, named for Edward Buncombe. (Wiktionary)


  • This whole “new way” line of bunkum is all smoke and mirrors.

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  • But in recent days the government has stepped up its defense of the plans, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Tuesday describing criticism of the tax as "bunkum" and "balderdash."

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  • Queen's College, under "old Jack's" rule; and, having kept up the acquisition, I found it now of considerable use, for, it caused me to be sent about much more than might otherwise have been the case -- to report the speeches of prominent public men, whether they were "stumping the provinces" throughout the Union, or basking in the blazing "bunkum" of the capital at Washington.

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  • Now, however, upon the repeated expression of fears from Lyons that this might be more than mere "bunkum," Russell began to instruct

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  • It will suffice to state that ninety-seven were relegated to the "bunkum" pocket, and seven retained as conveying intelligent orders worthy of consideration.

    On the Heels of De Wet

  • It is superfluous to mention that the whole of the messages sent by the local intelligence departments and by the De Wet expert were dismissed as "bunkum," often without perusal.

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  • If any one were to ask him how people are to live within their means when they've not got any, he would reply with the word "bunkum" and clinch the argument with a grunt.

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  • At some seminary or other a master wrote "bunkum" on an essay, and the student couldn't make the letters out -- thought it was a Latin word "luckum."

    Plays by Anton Chekhov, Second Series

  • To the petulant outbreaks on this question of the professors of "bunkum" which some of the latest accounts tell us have not been wanting, even in the comparatively sedate discussions of the Senate, we attached little weight, for we believed they were no longer in accordance with the feeling of the

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  • Mr. Seward has talked some nonsense of the "bunkum" kind about the seizure of Canada, but this he will now, being in a responsible position, be inclined speedily to forget, and we shall be happy to imitate him.

    London, Saturday, January 26, 1861.


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  • According to the story, during the 1820’s Missouri statehood debates, the representative Felix Walker began with what he promised to be a “long, dull and irrelevant speech”, and so it was. No matter who cried for him to stop, he continued dealing with issues having to do with his relatively small county rather than the House of Representatives.

    Ever since, people who speak of things unrelated to whatever it is that’s going on, are speaking bunkum.

    March 16, 2016

  • VARIANT FORMS: also buncombe
    NOUN: Empty or insincere talk; claptrap.
    ETYMOLOGY: After Buncombe, a county of western North Carolina, from a remark made around 1820 by its congressman, who felt obligated to give a dull speech “for Buncombe�?.

    May 4, 2007