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  1. a coarse, open fabric of worsted or cotton for flags, signals, etc.
  2. patriotic and festive decorations made from such cloth, or from paper, usually in the form of draperies, wide streamers, etc., in the colors of the national flag.
  3. flags, especially a vessel's flags, collectively.

Origin of bunting1

1735–45; perhaps orig. “sifting cloth,” hence bunt to sift (Middle English bonten) + -ing1


  1. any of several small, chiefly seed-eating birds of the genera Emberiza, Passerina, and Plectrophenax.

Origin of bunting2

1250–1300; Middle English < ?


  1. a hooded sleeping garment for infants.

Origin of bunting3

First recorded in 1920–25; special use of bunting1
Also called sleeper.


verb (used with object)
  1. (of a goat or calf) to push with the horns or head; butt.
  2. Baseball. to bat (a pitched ball) very gently so that it rolls into the infield close to home plate, usually by holding the bat loosely in hands spread apart and allowing the ball to bounce off it.
verb (used without object)
  1. to push (something) with the horns or head.
  2. Baseball. to bunt a ball.
  1. a push with the head or horns; butt.
  2. Baseball.
    1. the act of bunting.
    2. a bunted ball.

Origin of bunt1

1760–70; orig. British dial. (Central and S England): push, strike; of obscure origin
Related formsbunt·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bunting

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The bunting dipped and the banners fluttered and the flags whipped.


    James McKimmey

  • The scarred wooden pillars of its portico were hidden with bunting.

    Cy Whittaker's Place

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • The ships in the harbour were also dressed with fire instead of bunting.

    The Last Voyage

    Lady (Annie Allnutt) Brassey

  • “Well, it might be worse,” he confided to Bunting out in the corral.

    The Treasure Trail

    Marah Ellis Ryan

  • The stage was the bright spot, due to the decorations of flags, banners and bunting.

    Mixed Faces

    Roy Norton

British Dictionary definitions for bunting


  1. a coarse, loosely woven cotton fabric used for flags, etc
  2. decorative flags, pennants, and streamers
  3. flags collectively, esp those of a boat

Word Origin

C18: of unknown origin


  1. any of numerous seed-eating songbirds of the families Fringillidae (finches, etc) or Emberizidae, esp those of the genera Emberiza of the Old World and Passerina of North America. They all have short stout bills

Word Origin

C13: of unknown origin


  1. Basil . 1900–85, British poet, author of Briggflatts (1966)


  1. (of an animal) to butt (something) with the head or horns
  2. to cause (an aircraft) to fly in part of an inverted loop or (of an aircraft) to fly in such a loop
  3. US and Canadian (in baseball) to hit (a pitched ball) very gently
  1. the act or an instance of bunting

Word Origin

C19: perhaps nasalized variant of butt ³


  1. nautical the baggy centre of a fishing net or other piece of fabric, such as a square sail

Word Origin

C16: perhaps from Middle Low German bunt bundle


  1. a disease of cereal plants caused by smut fungi (genus Tilletia)

Word Origin

C17: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bunting


"flag material," 1742, perhaps from Middle English bonting gerundive of bonten "to sift," because cloth was used for sifting grain, via Old French, from Vulgar Latin *bonitare "to make good."


lark-like bird, c.1300, bountyng, of unknown origin. Perhaps from buntin "plump" (cf. baby bunting, also Scots buntin "short and thick;" Welsh bontin "rump," and bontinog "big-assed"), or a double diminutive of French bon. Or it might be named in reference to speckled plumage and be from an unrecorded Old English word akin to German bunt "speckled," Dutch bont.



1825, "to strike with the head or horns," perhaps an alteration of butt (v.) with a goat in mind, or a survival from Middle English bounten "to return." As a baseball term from 1889. Related: Bunted; bunting.



1767, "a push;" see bunt (v.). Baseball sense is from 1889.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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