Bunkum definition

bŭngkəm
Empty or insincere talk; claptrap.
noun
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(informal) Talk that is empty, insincere, or merely for effect; humbug.
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(slang) Senseless talk; nonsense; a piece of nonsense (countable)
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(Washington circa 1828) Any bombastic political posturing or an oratorical display not accompanied by conviction; speechmaking designed for show or public applause.
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Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
bunkum
Plural:
bunkums

Origin of bunkum

  • 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”

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • In 1820, Felix Walker, who represented Buncombe County, North Carolina, in the U.S. House of Representatives, rose to address the question of admitting Missouri as a free or slave state. This was his first attempt to speak on this subject after nearly a month of solid debate and right before the vote was to be called. Allegedly, to the exasperation of his colleagues, Walker insisted on delivering a long and wearisome "speech for Buncombe." He was shouted down by his colleagues. His persistent effort made "buncombe" (later respelled "bunkum") a synonym for meaningless political claptrap and later for any kind of nonsense. Although he was unable to make the speech in front of Congress it was still published in a Washington newspaper.

    From Wiktionary

  • 1830s, from buncombe, from “speaking to Buncombe” (“for Buncombe”) from Buncombe County, North Carolina, named for Edward Buncombe.

    From Wiktionary

  • The term became a joke and metaphor in Washington, then entered common usage; see discussion on talk page.

    From Wiktionary