Bunkum

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Etcetera

Senior Member
Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
Hi all,
I saw the word "bunkum" in Ian Fleming's Casino Royale, and I'm wondering what does it mean. Here's the context:
Bond could not contain his impatience. "Bunkum", he said. "He was looking at that sign". He pointed it out to Vesper.
I've checked my dictionaries, but I only found "buncombe" - according to the dictionary, it's an American word meaning something like "rubbish, nonsense". Does "bunkum" mean the same?
I've also searched this forum and found this thread (the word was used here by .., in post #7). It looks like "bunkum" is indeed the same as "buncombe". Am I right?
Thanks in advance. :)
 
  • . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    Bunkum means empty talk or nonsense.
    It is a derivation of Buncombe which is a county in North Carolina alluded to in an inane speech by its Congressional representative Felix Wagner in about 1820.

    .,,
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Bunkum means empty talk or nonsense.
    It is a derivation of Buncombe which is a county in North Carolina alluded to in an inane speech by its Congressional representative Felix Wagner in about 1820.

    .,,
    Generalizing from .,,'s fine etymology:

    ....which is a _______ alluded to in an inane speech ( yes, this is a useful rendundancy!) by Congressional representative _________ _________ in _______.

    In AE it is often shortened to an emphatic, "Bunk!"
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Bunkum means empty talk or nonsense.
    It is a derivation of Buncombe which is a county in North Carolina alluded to in an inane speech by its Congressional representative Felix Wagner in about 1820.

    .,,
    How strange! A county in the US is the source of "bunkum", a British or BE word? That surprised me. :)
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    No Gaer, it's not a BE word in origin. It started in Congress, home of much bunkum and bluster, and travelled from there.

    It seems the hack from Buncombe county informed his colleagues that he was going to drone on for a long while, and despite their pleas for a respite, he gabbled and sputtered balderdash and suchlike for quite a while, all in the interest of proving to his constituents that he was present and accounted for inside the eventual beltway. The Congressional Record is full of such gobbledygook, but back then one actually had to speak it on the floor of the House or Senate to have it recorded. Now they just send a file to the printer, and, Presto! Instant bunkum.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Am I the only one here who thinks bunkum is a relic, and obsolescent if not altogether dead? It could be resurrected for fanciful use like any inkhorn word-- for example, a certain notorious talking-head has been throwing around jackanapes and popinjay and even ninnyhammer, just to be cute.

    I don't see this word anywhere, except in the derivative debunker, meaning someone who exposes a widely-believed falsehood-- and even this word is getting a little shopworn. I predict mythbuster will take its place.
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    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Bunkum is neither archaic nor obsolete, but it's certainly out-of-date, dated, and old-fashioned. Bunk, on the other hand, is just geriatric, but still useful.
    Balderdash, for all its magniloquence, is all but unknown to the wet behind the ears generation that does't savor Mencken.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Balderdash, for all its magniloquence, is all but unknown to the wet behind the ears generation that does't savor Mencken.
    Well, I think it's gone beyond a lack of appreciation for Mencken-- including his once-famous quote about history. I'd bet most people alive today will never read a word of Mencken in their lifetimes.

    Gosh, did he die only 50 years ago? I think of him as an early Hearst-era pundit.

    It may be we're splitting hairs, or falling prey to wishful thinking. I can't imagine hearing "bunk" in our culture where "bullshit" reigns by unanimous acclamation.
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    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Bunkum is neither archaic nor obsolete, but it's certainly out-of-date, dated, and old-fashioned. Bunk, on the other hand, is just geriatric, but still useful.
    Balderdash, for all its magniloquence, is all but unknown to the wet behind the ears generation that does't savor Mencken.
    I know "balderdash" but not "Mencken". :confused:
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    I know "balderdash" but not "Mencken". :confused:
    Happy Birthday Gaer! Time you got to know him. Balderdash was one of many fine words used by Henry L. Mencken (1880- 1956), who wrote a magnificent volume, The American Language, six volumes of Prejudices, and hundreds or thousands of columns for the Baltimore Sun.

    A brief sample: "I do not believe in democracy, but I am perfectly willing to admit that it provides the only really amusing form of government ever endured by mankind."
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    I don't have time to check this out, but does anyone know if bunk/bunkum is related to bunco (con artist's "doings")?
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    The Collins Dictionary
    Bunco or Bunko a swindle especially by confidence tricksters C19 perhaps from Spanish banca bank (in gambling), from Italian banca BANK.

    .,,
     
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