bollix (v.) Look up bollix at
"bungle, make a mess of," 1937, a respelling (perhaps euphemistic) of bollocks, from Old English beallucas "testicles," from Proto-Germanic *ball-, from PIE root *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell." From 1919 as an interjection, "nonsense!" Related: Bollixed; bollixing.
bollock (n.) Look up bollock at
"testicle," singular of bollocks (q.v.).
bollocks (n.) Look up bollocks at
"testicles," 1744, variant of ballocks, from Old English beallucas "testicles," from Proto-Germanic *ball-, from PIE root *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell." In British slang, as an ejaculation, "nonsense!" from 1919.
Bollywood Look up Bollywood at
"film industry based in Mumbai, India," 1977, from Bombay (old name of Mumbai) + Hollywood.
Bolo (n.) Look up Bolo at
"traitor," 1917, from Paul Bolo, French adventurer shot for treason April 17, 1918; used in World War I with reference to pacifist propagandists; later somewhat assimilated to Bolshevik (q.v.).
Bologna Look up Bologna at
city in north-central Italy, famous during the Middle Ages for its university, 16c. for its painters, from Latin Bononia, which either represents Gaulish bona "foundation, fortress," or Boii, the name of the Gaulish people who occupied the region 4c. B.C.E. As a large type of sausage first made there, 1850, from bologna sausage (1590s). Also see baloney.
Bolognese (adj.) Look up Bolognese at
1756, "pertaining to Bologna" (q.v.); also as a noun, "native or inhabitant of Bologna," 1717, from Italian Bolognese.
boloney (n.) Look up boloney at
1907, variant of bologna in the sausage sense; also see baloney.
Bolshevik (n.) Look up Bolshevik at
"Russian radical socialist of the revolutionary period," 1917, from Russian bol'shevik (plural bol'sheviki), bol'shiy "greater," comparative of adjective bol'shoy "big, great" (as in Bolshoi Ballet), from Old Church Slavonic boljiji "larger," from PIE root *bel- "strong" (source also of Sanskrit balam "strength, force," Greek beltion "better," Phrygian balaios "big, fast," Old Irish odbal "strong," Welsh balch "proud;" Middle Dutch, Low German, Frisian pal "strong, firm").

The faction of the Russian Social Democratic Worker's Party after a split in 1903 that was either "larger" or "more extreme" (or both) than the Mensheviks (from Russian men'shij "less"); after they seized power in 1917, the name was applied generally to Russian communists, then also to anyone opposed to an existing order or social system. Bolshevism is recorded from 1917.
bolster (n.) Look up bolster at
Old English bolster "bolster, cushion, something stuffed so that it swells up," especially "a long, stuffed pillow," from Proto-Germanic *bolkhstraz (source also of Old Norse bolstr, Danish, Swedish, Dutch bolster, German polster), from PIE *bhelgh- "to swell," extended form of root *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell." Applied since 15c. to various parts which support others.
bolster (v.) Look up bolster at
mid-15c. (implied in bolstered), "prop up; make to bulge" (originally of a woman's breasts), from bolster (n.). Figurative sense is from c. 1500, on the notion of "to support with a bolster, prop up." Related: Bolstering.
bolt (n.) Look up bolt at
Old English bolt "short, stout arrow with a heavy head;" also "crossbow for throwing bolts," from Proto-Germanic *bultas (source also of Old Norse bolti, Danish bolt, Dutch bout, German Bolzen), perhaps originally "arrow, missile," and from PIE *bheld- "to knock, strike" (source also of Lithuanian beldu "I knock," baldas "pole for striking").

Applied since Middle English to other short metal rods (especially those with knobbed ends): meanings "stout pin for fastening objects together" and "part of a lock which springs out" are both from c. 1400. A bolt of canvas (c. 1400) was so called for its shape. Adverbial phrase bolt upright (like a bolt or arrow) is from late 14c. Meaning "sliding metal rod that thrusts the cartridge into the chamber of a firearm" is from 1859. From the notion of an arrow's flight comes the bolt of lightning (1530s) and the sense of "a sudden spring or start" (1540s).
bolt (v.) Look up bolt at
from bolt (n.) in its various senses (especially "a missile" and "a fastening"); from a crossbow arrow's quick flight comes the meaning "to spring, to make a quick start" (early 13c.). Via the notion of fleeing game or runaway horses, this came to mean "to leave suddenly" (1610s). Meaning "to gulp down food" is from 1794. The meaning "to secure by means of a bolt" is from 1580s. Related: Bolted; bolting.
bomb (n.) Look up bomb at
"explosive projectile," originally consisting of a hollow ball or shell filled with explosive material, 1580s, from French bombe, from Italian bomba, probably from Latin bombus "a deep, hollow noise; a buzzing or booming sound," from Greek bombos "deep and hollow sound," echoic. Thus probably so called for the sound it makes.

Originally of mortar shells, etc.; modern sense of "explosive device placed by hand or dropped from airplane" is from 1909. Meaning "old car" is from 1953. Meaning "success" is from 1954 (late 1990s slang the bomb "the best" probably is a fresh formation); opposite sense of "a failure" is from 1961. The bomb "atomic bomb" is from 1945. Compare shell (n.).
bomb (v.) Look up bomb at
1680s, "fire bombs at, attack with bombs" (marked archaic in Century Dictionary, 1889, but sadly revived in 20c.), from bomb (n.). Slang meaning "to fail" is attested from 1963; that of "move or travel quickly" is from 1966. Related: Bombed; bombing. Slang bombed "drunk" is attested by 1956.
bomb-proof (adj.) Look up bomb-proof at
1702, from bomb (n.) + proof (n.). As a noun, "underground structure strong enough to resist the impact and explosive force of bombs," 1755. In the U.S. Civil War it was a contemptuous term for men not exposed to the dangers of war.
bombard (n.) Look up bombard at
early 15c., "catapult, military engine for throwing large stones" ("The name generally given in Europe to the cannon during the 1st century of its use" - Century Dictionary), from Middle French bombarde "mortar, catapult" (14c.), from bombe (see bomb (n.)). The same word, from the same source, was used in English and French late 14c. in reference to the bass shawm, a low-pitched bassoon-like musical instrument, preserving the "buzzing" sense in the Latin.
bombard (v.) Look up bombard at
1590s, "to fire heavy guns," from French bombarder, from bombarde "mortar, catapult" (see bombard (n.)). Meaning "attack with heavy ordnance" is from 1680s. Figurative sense "assail persistently" is by 1765. Related: Bombarded; bombarding.
bombardier (n.) Look up bombardier at
1550s, "soldier in charge of a cannon," from French bombardier, from bombard (see bombard (n.)). In 17c.-18c. of soldiers who loaded shells, fixed fuses, and generally manned mortars and howitzers; meaning "one who aims the bombs in an aircraft" is attested 1932, American English.
bombardment (n.) Look up bombardment at
"continuous attack with shot and shell," 1702, from bombard (v.) + -ment.
bombast (n.) Look up bombast at
1570s, "cotton padding," corrupted from earlier bombace "raw cotton" (1550s), from Old French bombace "cotton, cotton wadding," from Late Latin bombacem, accusative of bombax "cotton, 'linteorum aut aliae quaevis quisquiliae,' " a corruption and transferred use of Latin bombyx "silk," from Greek bombyx "silk, silkworm" (which also came to mean "cotton" in Medieval Greek), from some oriental word, perhaps related to Iranian pambak (modern panba) or Armenian bambok, perhaps ultimately from a PIE root meaning "to twist, wind."

Also from the same source are Swedish bomull, Danish bomuld "cotton," and, via Turkish forms, Modern Greek mpampaki, Rumanian bumbac, Serbo-Croatian pamuk. German baumwolle "cotton" probably is from the Latin word but altered by folk-etymology to look like "tree wool." Polish bawełna, Lithuanian bovelna are partial translations from German.

From stuffing and padding for clothes or upholstery, meaning extended to "pompous, empty speech" (1580s).
Bombast was originally applied to a stuff of soft, loose texture, once used to swell the garment. Fustian was also a kind of cloth of stiff expansive character. These terms are applied to a high, swelling style of writing, full of extravagant sentiments and expressions. Bathos is a word which has the same application, meaning generally the mock heroic--that "depth" into which one falls who overleaps the sublime; the step which one makes in order to pass from the sublime to the ridiculous. [James de Mille, "Elements of Rhetoric," 1878]
bombastic (adj.) Look up bombastic at
1704, "inflated," from bombast + -ic. Meaning "given to bombastic language, characterized by bombast" is from 1727. Related: Bombastical (1640s).
Bombay Look up Bombay at
city in western India, from Portuguese, and popularly explained as Portuguese bom bahia "good bay," but that seems folk etymology (for one, the adjective is masculine and the noun is feminine), and the more likely candidate is the local Mumbadevi "Goddess Mumba," a Hindu deity worshipped there. The city's name officially changed to Mumbai in 1995.
bombazine (n.) Look up bombazine at
(also bombasine, bambazine), 1550s, "raw cotton;" 1570s, "twilled or corded dress material woven of silk and wool, always inexpensive and of the same color," from French bombasin (14c.) "cotton cloth," from Medieval Latin bombacinium "silk texture," from Late Latin bombycinium, neuter of bombycinius "silken," from bombyx "silk, silkworm," from Greek bombyx (see bombast). The post-classical transfer of the word from "silk" to "cotton" may reflect the perceived "silk-like" nature of the fabric, or a waning of familiarity with genuine silk in the European Dark Ages, but compare bombast.
bomber (n.) Look up bomber at
"one who throws bombs," 1915, agent noun from bomb (v.). Used in the U.S. Civil War (1863) in reference to mortar-mounted flat-bottomed river-boats in the Vicksburg campaign. As a type of military aircraft, from 1917.
bombinate (v.) Look up bombinate at
"make a buzzing noise," 1865, from Latin bombinare, corrupted from bombitare "to hum, buzz," from bombus "a deep, hollow sound; hum, buzz," echoic. Also sometimes bombilate. Related: Bombinated; bombinating.
bombination (n.) Look up bombination at
1816, noun of action from bombinate.
bombing (n.) Look up bombing at
"an attack with bombs," 1610s, verbal noun from bomb (v.).
bombshell (n.) Look up bombshell at
also bomb-shell, 1708, from bomb (n.) + shell (n.). The figurative sense of "shattering or devastating thing or event" attested from 1860. In reference to a pretty woman "of startling vitality or physique" [OED], especially a blonde, it is attested by 1942. "Bombshell" as title of a movie starring blond U.S. actress Jean Harlow (1911-1937) is from 1933.
bombyx (n.) Look up bombyx at
"the silkworm," late 14c., from Latin, from Greek (see bombast).
bon (adj.) Look up bon at
French, literally "good" (adj.), from Latin bonus "good" (see bonus). It has crossed the Channel in phrases such as bon appétit, literally "good appetite" (1860); bon-ton "good style" (1744); bon mot (1735), etc. Compare boon, bonhomie.
bon mot (n.) Look up bon mot at
"witticism, clever or witty saying," 1735, French, literally "good word," from bon "good" + mot "remark, short speech," literally "word" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin muttum, from Latin muttire "to mutter, mumble, murmur" (see mutter (v.)). The plural is bons mots.
bon soir (interj.) Look up bon soir at
French, "good evening;" see bon + soiree.
bon voyage Look up bon voyage at
1670s, French, "pleasant journey," from bon "good," (see bon) + voyage (see voyage (n.)).
bon-vivant (n.) Look up bon-vivant at
also bon vivant, "jovial companion, one fond of good living," 1690s, French (see bon); the fem. is bonne vivante.
bona fide (adv.) Look up bona fide at
1540s, "genuinely, with sincerity," Latin, literally "in or with good faith," ablative of bona fides "good faith" (see faith). Originally in English an adverb, later (18c.) also an adjective, "acting or done in good faith." The opposite is mala fide.
bona fides (n.) Look up bona fides at
"good faith, fair dealing, freedom from intent to deceive," by 1838, English pluralization of bona fide, as though the Latin phrase were a noun. Sense of "guarantees of good faith" is by 1944.
bona-roba (n.) Look up bona-roba at
"a showy wanton" [Johnson], 1590s, from Italian buonaroba "as we say good stuffe, that is a good wholesome plum-cheeked wench" [Florio], literally "fine gown," from buona "good" (from Latin bonus "good;" see bonus) + roba "robe, dress, stuff, gear," from a Germanic source (see robe (n.)).
bonafide Look up bonafide at
see bona fide.
bonanza (n.) Look up bonanza at
1844, western U.S. (1842 as a Mexican word in English), from American Spanish bonanza "a rich lode," originally "fair weather at sea, prosperity," from Vulgar Latin *bonacia, from Latin bonus "good" (see bonus). The Spanish word was transferred to mines, then, in English, to farms, then used generally for "a profitable thing."
Bonaparte Look up Bonaparte at
in reference to Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), Corsican-born French military leader and dictator; the surname is the French form of Italian Buonaparte, from buona "good" (from Latin bonus "good;" see bonus) + parte "part, share, portion" (from Latin partem "a part, piece, a share, a division," from PIE root *pere- (2) "to grant, allot"). Related: Bonapartist; Bonapartism.
bonbon (n.) Look up bonbon at
also bon-bon, "sugar confection," 1796, from French bonbon (17c.), childish reduplication of bon "good," from Latin bonus "good" (see bonus). Hence, bonbonniere (1818) "a box for sweets."
bond (adj.) Look up bond at
c. 1300, "in a state of a serf, unfree," from bond (n.) "tenant, farmer holding land under a lord in return for customary service; a married bond as head of a household" (mid-13c.). The Old English form was bonda, bunda "husbandman, householder," but the Middle English word probably is from Old Norse *bonda, a contraction of boande, buande "occupier and tiller of soil, peasant, husbandman," a noun from the past participle of bua, boa "to dwell" (from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow").

"In the more despotic Norway and Denmark, bo'ndi became a word of contempt, denoting the common low people. ... In the Icelandic Commonwealth the word has a good sense, and is often used of the foremost men ...." [OED]. The sense of the noun deteriorated in English after the Conquest and the rise of the feudal system, from "free farmer" to "serf, slave" (c. 1300) and the word became associated with unrelated bond (n.) and bound (adj.1).
bond (n.) Look up bond at
early 13c., "anything that binds, fastens, or confines," phonetic variant of band (n.1) and at first interchangeable with it. For vowel change, see long (adj.); also influenced by unrelated Old English bonda "householder," literally "dweller" (see bond (adj.)).

It preserves more distinctly than band the connection with bind and bound (adj.1) and is now the main or only form in the sense of "restraining or uniting force." From early 14c. as "an agreement or covenant;" from late 14c. as "a binding or uniting power or influence." Legalistic sense "an instrument binding one to pay a sum to another" first recorded 1590s. Meaning "a method of laying bricks in courses" is from 1670s.
bond (v.) Look up bond at
1670s, "to put in a bond" (transitive), from bond (n.). Intransitive sense "hold together from being bonded" is from 1836. Originally of things; of persons by 1969.
bondage (n.) Look up bondage at
c. 1300, "legal condition of a serf or slave," from Middle English bond "a serf, tenant farmer," from Old English bonda "householder," from or cognate with Old Norse boandi "free-born farmer," noun use of present participle of boa "dwell, prepare, inhabit," from PIE *bhow-, from root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow." For sense evolution, see bond (adj.). The sexual sado-masochism sense is recorded by 1966.
bonded (adj.) Look up bonded at
"legally confirmed or secured by bond," 1590s, from bond (v.).
bonding (n.) Look up bonding at
"a binding or connecting together," 1670s, originally in the laying of bricks, stones, etc.; verbal noun from bond (v.)). Male bonding is attested by 1969.
bondman (n.) Look up bondman at
mid-13c., "husband, husbandman," from Middle English bond "tenant farmer" (see bond (adj.)) + man (n.). Later, "man in bondage, male slave" (mid-14c.). Bondmaid is from 1520s as "slave-girl."
bondsman (n.) Look up bondsman at
"one who stands surety by bond," 1754, from bond (n.) + man (n.), with genitive -s- added probably in part to avoid confusion with bondman.