The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018


Bombast: Inflated, extravagant, often ranting language, particularly common in Elizabethan literary works and political speeches.

EXAMPLE: These lines from Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great (1587), spoken by Tamburlaine himself:

The host of Xerxes, which by fame is said

To drink the mighty Parthian Araris,

Was but a handful to that we will have.

Our quivering lances, shaking in the air,

And bullets, like Jove’s dreadful thunderbolts,

Enroll’d in flames and fiery smoldering mists,

Shall threat the gods more than Cyclopian wars;

And, with our sun-bright armor as we march,

We’ll chase the stars from Heaven and dim their eyes

That stand and muse at our admired arms.

An 1870 Nebraska newspaper editorial discussing legislative turmoil provides another example of bombast, rife with absurdly mixed metaphors: “The apple of discord is now fairly in our midst, and if not nipped in the bud it will burst forth in a conflagration which will deluge society in an earthquake of bloody apprehension.”