Definition of bomb in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /bɒm/


1A container filled with explosive or incendiary material, designed to explode on impact or when detonated by a timing, proximity, or remote-control device: [as modifier]: a bomb attack
More example sentences
  • The second night attack, which used high explosive and incendiary bombs alternately, caused the first man-made firestorm which affected an area of
  • According to sources, dissident groups are now at work planning to plant bombs or detonate incendiary devices.
  • An exact mix of high explosive and incendiary bombs was used to start the kind of fires that burned Dresden.
explosive, incendiary device, incendiary, device;
missile, projectile, trajectile
dated blockbuster, bombshell
1.1 [with modifier] An explosive device fitted into a specified object: a 100 lb van bomb
More example sentences
  • He made sure of that when he sent her a package bomb that blew off her hands and nearly killed her.
  • The building has been targeted before, and was the scene of a massive van bomb in 1993.
  • Recent attempted van bomb attacks were foiled in Derry and Belfast.
1.2 (the bomb) Nuclear weapons considered collectively as agents of mass destruction: she joined the fight against the bomb
More example sentences
  • Harry Truman, who made the decision to use it, shared with the electorate the opinion that the bomb was a legitimate weapon.
  • Let me say that I have a strong but constructive critique against parts of the traditional left with regard to their attitude to the bomb and nuclear power.
  • The age of the bomb, and of other weapons of mass destruction (chemical and biological) continues.
nuclear weapons, nuclear bombs, atom bombs, A-bombs
2A thing resembling a bomb in shape, in particular:
Example sentences
  • Even Lush haven't got their Christmas pudding shaped bath bombs out yet.
2.1 (also volcanic bomb) A lump of lava thrown out by a volcano.
Example sentences
  • Everyone else gets going out of the way of the lava bombs and lava flows.
  • Fresh manure, too, dollops of it ramping over the concrete lip of the stall floor like lava bombs flung from a brown volcano.
  • The party ran out of the palace and looked up in the sky and saw a swarm of what looked like lava bees holding lava bombs.
2.2A pear-shaped weight used to anchor a fishing line to the bottom.
Example sentences
  • For longer range work I will use a semi-fixed bomb for weights up to 1/2 ounce.
  • The lead should be heavy enough to counter the weight of the current, and flat bombs are better than round ones which will tend to roll downstream with the current.
3 (a bomb) British informal A large sum of money: that silk must have cost a bomb
More example sentences
  • LCD televisions are all the rage, but a space-saving panel with a picture to rival your traditional set will cost a bomb.
  • They may be high fashion, and they may well cost a bomb, but they are, fundamentally, half your basic shell suit.
  • The show didn't cost a bomb and was in aid of a local charity for children.
a fortune, a small fortune, a king's ransom, a huge amount, a vast sum, a large sum of money, a lot, millions, billions
informal a packet, a mint, a bundle, a pile, a wad, a pretty penny, an arm and a leg, a tidy sum, a killing
British informal loadsamoney, shedloads, silly money
North American informal big bucks, big money, gazillions
Australian informal big bickies
4 informal A film, play, or other event that fails badly: that bomb of an old movie
More example sentences
  • And while expensive star signings have won lacklustre ratings, the channel's film arm has produced a string of critical and commercial bombs.
5 (the (or da) bomb) US informal An outstandingly good person or thing: the site would really be da bomb if its content were updated more frequently
More example sentences
  • But as it turns out, this cute little game is still da bomb.
  • I played using more of the lower register, which is totally DA BOMB on my violin, and I really need to do that more often.
  • He is simply ‘da Bomb’ where ladies are concerned.
6A long forward pass or hit in a ball game: a two-run bomb
More example sentences
  • They nudged further ahead when Steve Prescott converted after Vaikona knocked forward a bomb to an off-side Lee Radford.
  • Passing the bomb between teammates and trying to setup plays is really cool!
  • Defenses learned how Williams could burn them deep, so they gave him a lot of room underneath to protect against the 40-yard bombs.
7 informal A cannabis cigarette.


1 [with object] Attack (a place or object) with a bomb or bombs: they bombed the city at dawn
More example sentences
  • In advance of the line of attack the Luftwaffe heavily bombed all road and rail junctions, and concentrations of Polish troops.
  • The next occasion Bangkok heard the drone of Allied bombers was 19 December when the dock area was bombed at night.
  • We strafed and bombed the city until 23,000 of them were dead.
bombard, drop bombs on, explode, blast;
shell, torpedo, blitz, strafe, pound;
attack, assault, raid;
blow up, blow to bits, blow sky-high, destroy, wipe out, level, raze (to the ground), demolish, flatten, topple, wreck, devastate, pulverize, obliterate, ravage, smash
archaic cannonade
1.1 (bomb someone out) Make someone homeless by destroying their home with bombs: my family were bombed out while I was fighting
More example sentences
  • I lived in a two-up, two-down in a cul-de-sac in Croydon, with an outside loo, and we were bombed out three times during the war.
  • The implication is that you don't have an ethical right to bomb them out of their ability to retaliate against you.
  • What are their living conditions going to be like after we bomb them out?
2 [no object, with adverbial of direction] British informal Move very quickly: we were bombing down the motorway at breakneck speed
More example sentences
  • I have heard many a screeching of car breaks as the driver has been bombing along and come around the corner to meet a huge tractor.
  • Kevin Alderton is hoping to set the first-ever blind speed skiing record by bombing down a snowy slope at more than 100 mph.
  • It is the concern of the bank that prices have bombed along despite expectations to the contrary, he said.
3 [no object] informal (Of a film, play, or other event) fail badly: it just became another big-budget film that bombed
More example sentences
  • His first film bombed because it failed to live up to its name.
  • The hugely expensive film bombed so badly that one of Hollywood's most venerable companies, United Artists, was destroyed.
  • The distributors were not going to be happy, said the theatre manager, although since the film had bombed in Auckland they were probably not expecting too much.



go down a bomb

British informal Be very well received: those gigs we did went down a bomb
More example sentences
  • Made with black pudding supplied by Kendal butchers Watson & Woollard, the bread went down a bomb.
  • This is the sort of blend of real history mixed with a dash of naughtiness which seems to go down a bomb with the visitors.
  • They'd go down a bomb in Wimbledon, the bakers and their strawberry and cream tarts.

go like a bomb

British informal
1Be very successful: the party went like a bomb
More example sentences
  • In the target seats we have been going like a bomb and there is a great deal of confidence.
  • I was going like a bomb with those two birds from the gasworks before I tried your Jimmy Cagney Routine.
  • Fund Raising has gone like a bomb with a total so far of an amazing £3,200 raised!
2(Of a vehicle or person) move very fast.
Example sentences
  • The connection goes like a bomb for 2 minutes then just slows down to less than a dial-up connection!
  • The York went like a bomb, was utterly reliable - if a bit rattly - and was easy to fix if it did go wrong.
  • ‘And Lewis went like a bomb for the first 400 metres up to the corner and then another 100 metres.’

look like a bomb's hit it

informal (Of a place) be extremely messy or untidy in appearance: the room looked like a bomb had hit it
More example sentences
  • The room tidy bit doesn't always happen but then when it gets to looking like a bomb's hit it they are the ones who have to blitz it clean.
  • One villager said: ‘My kitchen looks like a bomb's hit it at the moment.
  • Look at it, it looks like a bomb's hit it, it looks like a wasteland, there's not even a sign of a tree.


Late 17th century: from French bombe, from Italian bomba, probably from Latin bombus 'booming, humming', from Greek bombos, of imitative origin.

  • In terms of origin, a bomb goes boom (LME from a Germanic root)—the word probably goes right back to Greek bombos ‘booming, humming’. The first bombs, in the late 17th century, are what we would call ‘shells’. Soldiers ignited their fuses and fired them from mortars. Before they were dramatically unexpected events or sexy blondes, bombshells were originally the casings of such devices. Bombs as we know them came to prominence in the First World War. It was not until after the Second World War, though, that to go like a bomb began to be used for ‘to go very fast’, or cost a bomb for ‘be very expensive’. See also atom. A bombardier (late 16th century) gets his name from an early gun called a bombard (Late Middle English), which came from the same source as bomb.

Words that rhyme with bomb

aplomb, bombe, CD-ROM, dom, from, glom, mom, pom, prom, Rom, shalom, Somme, therefrom, Thom, tom, wherefrom

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: bomb

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.