Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bunkum n.

also buncombe, bokum
[proper name of Buncombe County in North Carolina. The word emerged during the debate on the ‘Missouri Question’ in 1821 when Felix Walker, the member from this district, rose to speak. Although the debate was due to end and members begged him to sit down, he refused, explaining that his constituents expected it, and that he was bound ‘to make a speech for Buncombe’. The term stuck, first as buncombe, then bunkum, then, as abbr. by the satirist George Ade (1866–1944), bunk. An alternative ety. links it to the gambling dice game banco or bunco , the cheating at which soon made it a synon. for fraud]

(orig. US) nonsense, rubbish, flattery; also attrib.

[US]Niles’ Register XXXV 66/2: ‘Talking to Bunkum!’ This is an old and common saying at Washington, when a member of congress is making one of those hum-drum and unlistened to ‘long talks’ which have lately become so fashionable [DA].
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 20 Sept. 3/2: Notwithstanding all the bunkum of his most sanguine backer, he could not be persuaded to again stand.
[US]J.S. Robb Streaks of Squatter Life 17: To sum it up, it is a little of government—a great deal of ‘bunkum’, sprinkled with a high seasoning of political juggling.
[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 16 July 2/5: Mr HOLROYD replied very briefly, repudiating the idea that his motion was founded on ‘bunkum’ — a slang phrase.
[US]T. Haliburton Sam Slick’s Wise Saws I 47: It’s all bunkum, you know.
[UK]Broad Arrow Jack 20: I guess [...] that’s a bit of bunkum.
[US]C.H. Smith Bill Arp 69: It’s good Buncombe to have a scape-goat!
[UK]J. Mair Hbk of Phrases 98: Bunkum. Same as Buncombe.
[UK]J. Diprose London Life 19: When an old member of their own body indulges in ‘bunkum,’ he is good-humouredly laughed down.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Feb. 4/4: We can make every allowance for the man’s dread of bookmakers, as the burnt child dreads the fire, but the legislator’s ‘highest considerations’ are all bunkum.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 16 Oct. 1/4: Happily, the working classes are beginning to rise superior to ‘buncombe’ of this description.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 1 Jan. 2/2: [C]lergymen [...] have fired their gospel guns — loaded always with the blank cartridges of insincerity and buncombe.
[UK] in Punch 14 Nov. 229/2: As to the Mrs. Conover paragraph, it is pure bunkum.
[UK] ‘’Arry on [...] the Glorious Twelfth’ in Punch 30 Aug. 97/2: ’Arrison talks blooming bunkum, with hadjectives spicy and strong.
[US]Colfax Chron. (Grant Parish, LA) 18 Feb. 1/3: For a newspaper editor to gulp down his buncombe and solidly take about the payment of an honest debt as a ‘steal’ . . .
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 11 Mar. 4/8: ‘A free country, where there is always a fair field and no favor.’ Ecstatic bunkum.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 27 Apr. 470: One [...] of the many ‘yarns’ in his book was not ‘bunkum’!
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 17 July 4/1: [headline] Bunkum Betting.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 18 Feb. 4/8: That’s all bunkum.
[US]N.Y. Eve. Post 25 Jan. n.p.: [The speech] is sheer buncombe, of course.
[US]Ade Knocking the Neighbors 98: He was keyed to Concert Pitch and the Audience was Piped and all the old sure-fire Bokum of a Sentimental Nature simply Killed them.
[UK]C. Holme Lonely Plough (1931) 163: Bunkum! [...] You’re talking through your hats. Of course I can’t do it!
[US]E. Pound letter 12 Oct. in Paige (1971) 64: Dear H.M.:---- Buncumb about Brooke!
[UK]A. Brazil Madcap of the School 65: ‘Bunkum!’ replied Ardiune.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 602: Winner trained by Braine so that Lenehan’s version of the business was all pure buncombe.
[US]F.P. Adams So Much Velvet 55: Your column is buncombe and bluff.
[UK]A. Christie Secret of Chimneys (1956) 152: Detective stories are mostly bunkum.
[UK]V. Palmer Passage 15: All bunkum! She had said the same sort of thing about Fred.
E. Pound Imaginary Letters 9: Buncombe! Her cousin [...] is ten times better educated.
[UK]A. Christie Three Act Tragedy (1964) 33: A lot of that business is all bunkum.
[Ire]‘Flann O’Brien’ Third Policeman (1974) 73: That remark is what may well be called buncombe.
[UK]B. Charles 6 Feb. diary in Garfield Our Hidden Lives (2004) 177: All this ‘austerity’ is largely bunkum [...] I think if the Government continues to force this austerity nonsense on us the people won’t stand for such twaddle.
[US]Chicago Trib. 17 May 18/3: The buncombe and the whoopee end, the whistle stopper’s gang departs [DA].
[UK]K. Williams Diaries 29 Jan. 97: Peter Nichols told me this story — it’s the perfect answer to all the psychological bunkum that goes on.
[UK]B. Aldiss Hand-Reared Boy 89: The boys were fobbed off with bunkum about not touching anyone you weren’t engaged to.
[NZ]R. Morrieson Pallet on the Floor 41: ‘Aw, bunkum,’ said Sam.
[Ire]H. Leonard Out After Dark 188: He regarded the performing arts as so much bunkum.
[UK]Guardian 25 Aug. 13: This is all bunkum, they’ve cheated us.
[SA]Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg) 23 Mar. [Internet] My knowledge of Afrikaans girls is mainly based on hearsay [...] and populist bunkum.