speech too pompous for an occasion; pretentious words.
Obsolete. cotton or other material used to stuff garments; padding.


Obsolete. bombastic.

Origin of bombast

1560–70; earlier bombace padding < Middle French < Medieval Latin bombācem, accusative of bombāx; see bombax family Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bombast

Contemporary Examples of bombast

Historical Examples of bombast

  • The more I see of them the more I get tired of their bombast and their empty talk.

    A Girl of the Commune

    George Alfred Henty

  • This German-creed sweeps the earth with all the bombast of a war-mad Kaiser.

    The Sequel

    George A. Taylor

  • The bombast and ignorance shown in some of these is very amusing.

    Diary in America, Series Two

    Frederick Marryat (AKA Captain Marryat)

  • After all, what is is, and neither falsehood nor bombast will alter it.

    The German War

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Its boyishness and immaturity, its stiffness and bombast, are perceptible on every page.

    Tobias Smollett

    Oliphant Smeaton

British Dictionary definitions for bombast



pompous and grandiloquent language
obsolete material used for padding
Derived Formsbombastic, adjectivebombastically, adverb

Word Origin for bombast

C16: from Old French bombace, from Medieval Latin bombāx cotton; see bombacaceous
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 bombast

1560s, "cotton padding," corrupted from earlier bombace (1550s), from Old French bombace "cotton, cotton wadding," from Late Latin bombacem, accusative of bombax "cotton, 'linteorum aut aliae quaevis quisquiliae,' " a corruption and transferred use of Latin bombyx "silk," from Greek bombyx "silk, silkworm" (which also came to mean "cotton" in Medieval Greek), from some oriental word, perhaps related to Iranian pambak (modern panba) or Armenian bambok, perhaps ultimately from a PIE root meaning "to twist, wind." From stuffing and padding for clothes or upholstery, meaning extended to "pompous, empty speech" (1580s).

Also from the same source are Swedish bomull, Danish bomuld "cotton," and, via Turkish forms, Modern Greek mpampaki, Rumanian bumbac, Serbo-Croatian pamuk. German baumwolle "cotton" is probably from the Latin word but altered by folk-etymology to look like "tree wool." Polish bawełna, Lithuanian bovelna are partial translations from German.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper