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Origin of boom

First recorded in 1400–50; 1910–15 for def. 10; late Middle English bombon, bummyn “to buzz”; cognate with Dutch bommen, German bummen; imitative of the sound


boom·ing·ly, adverb

Other definitions for boom (2 of 2)

[ boom ]
/ bum /

verb (used with object)
to extend or position, as a sail (usually followed by out or off).
to manipulate (an object) by or as by means of a crane or derrick.
verb (used without object)
to sail at full speed.

Origin of boom

First recorded in 1660–65; from Dutch: literally, “tree, pole”; see origin at beam


boomless, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does boom mean?

A boom is a deep, loud, resonant sound that echoes or travels rapidly, like the sound of thunder.

To boom is to create such a sound, as in The thunder boomed overhead, which scared our poor dog.

A boom is also a rapid increase in prices, development, numbers, and the like, as in Thanks to the new majors, the college is experiencing a boom in student enrollment. When an entire economy goes through a period of quick growth, that, too, is a boom.

To boom is also to grow rapidly, as a business or economy might, as in Houses are selling so fast that the housing market is booming.

Example: There was a loud boom from around the corner and then a few minutes later there were police cars coming from everywhere.

Where does boom come from?

The first records of the term boom come from the 1400s. It ultimately comes from the German bummen, which is meant to imitate the sound. In the early 1900s, boom began being used to describe a period of economic success and is often associated with the American phrase boom-and-bust cycle.

Most often, though, boom is used to define the sound made by a large, dull impact or a resonating sound from far away. Boom is an example of onomatopoeia, a word that imitates the sound it describes, as in The cars made a boom.

Because booms are often associated with a fast or brutal impact and because sound travels extremely fast from one place to another, boom has several uses related to speed, such as to boom from one side of the field to the other, or in the economic sense, as in business was booming.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to boom?

  • boomer (noun)
  • boomingly (adverb)

What are some synonyms for boom?

What are some words that share a root or word element with boom?

What are some words that often get used in discussing boom?

How is boom used in real life?

Boom is a common word with several meanings.



Try using boom!

Is boom used correctly in the following sentence?

Joe has such a big, booming voice that he doesn’t need a microphone to be heard in a big room.

How to use boom in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for boom (1 of 2)

/ (buːm) /

to make a deep prolonged resonant sound, as of thunder or artillery fire
to prosper or cause to prosper vigorously and rapidlybusiness boomed

Word Origin for boom

C15: perhaps from Dutch bommen, of imitative origin

British Dictionary definitions for boom (2 of 2)

/ (buːm) /

nautical a spar to which a sail is fastened to control its position relative to the wind
a beam or spar pivoting at the foot of the mast of a derrick, controlling the distance from the mast at which a load is lifted or lowered
a pole, usually extensible, carrying an overhead microphone and projected over a film or television set
  1. a barrier across a waterway, usually consisting of a chain of connected floating logs, to confine free-floating logs, protect a harbour from attack, etc
  2. the area so barred off

Word Origin for boom

C16: from Dutch boom tree, beam
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with boom


see lower the boom.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.