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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

A Word A Day — bombinate

September 30, 2012

Word of the Day

  • bombinate
  • audio pronunciation
  • \BAHM-buh-nayt\


: buzz, drone

The only sounds Jared could hear in the office that night were those of his own typing and the air conditioner bombinating.

"Time passes in Suttree, but nothing and no one develops—excepting, perhaps, time itself in its running out. People fart around, they raise a little local hell, they marinate, they bombinate, they get carted off either to jail or to the morgue." — From Peter Josyph's 2010 book Adventures in Reading Cormac McCarthy


"Bombinate" sounds like it should be the province of bombastic blowhards who bound up and bombard you with droning blather at parties—and it is. The word derives from the Greek word "bombos," a term that probably originated as an imitation of a deep, hollow sound (the kind we would likely refer to as "booming" nowadays). Latin speakers rendered the original Greek form as "bombus," and that root gave forth a veritable din of raucous English offspring, including not only "bombinate," but also "bomb," "bombard," and "bound" ("to leap"). However, Latin "bombus" is not a direct ancestor of "bombastic," which traces to "bombyx," a Greek name for the silkworm.

From Merriam-Webster Online at

Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.