Bombast is cottoning on

I am sure that you know what bombastic means. It is used to describe pretentious language; an inflated style; or pompous language inappropriate for the occasion. We have all had to sit through a speaker who thinks that he is orator but is really just a bore.

I remember the first time I even heard bombastic. I was in 6th class in primary school. The new teacher, fresh out of teaching college,  was not coping with the job. Our class were nice, quiet country kids and she just was just getting stressed trying to keep order. Everyone was talking and she wasn’t able to find a circuit breaker. She turned her ire on one of my friends who was talking when he shouldn’t have by calling him bombastic. It was the wrong word to the wrong audience. None of the 12 year olds knew what it meant. We thought the teacher was talking gobbledygook and it just created more of an excuse to talk.

Poor woman she was in tears by the end of it and, of course, the 12 year olds thought it was a great joke to see the teacher defeated. I remember to this day. It was probably the first time I had seen someone having a really bad day at work.

Bombastic the adjectival or adverbial form is common. It is not so often used in its noun bombast.

It has held a similar meaning at least since Shakespeare described Falstaff as the sweet creature of bombast in Henry IV.

But do you know how the word, bombastic, originated? It comes directly from medieval latin bombax via the old French bambace meaning cotton padding. These in turn came from Greek pambax and the Persian pambak for cotton.

Bombast has not evolved its meaning too far from its ancient origin. Originally it meant cotton stuffing and now it means pretentious language that is stuffed full of nothingness.