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the bomb

See also: bomb, Bomb, and the Bomb

Contents

EnglishEdit

Alternative formsEdit

EtymologyEdit

Attested in reference to nuclear weapons or the capacity to use them since 1932;[1] see quotations, below. As slang for something excellent, the phrase is attested since the 1960s; compare go down a bomb, UK theatre slang during the 1950s meaning “be a major success”.[2] For further etymology see bomb.

NounEdit

the bomb

  1. (informal) The atomic bomb; the capability to launch a nuclear attack. Often capitalized.
    Pakistan and India both have the Bomb now.
    • 1932, Harold Nicolson, “Public Faces”, in The Spectator, volume 149, page 558:
      The Cabinet, when faced with this proffered omnipotence, had recoiled in fear. True it was that their acute distaste for the bomb [] did credit to their humanity, to their state of civilization.
    • 1962, Kwame Nkruma, The World Without the Bomb: Selections from the Papers of “the Accra Assembly”, page 3:
      In my view, the tensions which have produced the “World with the Bomb” can be divided into roughly four classes.
  2. (slang) A success; something excellent.
    Their new record is the bomb.
    That party was the bomb!
    • 1997, Sheneska Jackson, Li'l Mama's Rules, page 152:
      She’s happy, she’s found a little big-head boy who thinks she’s the bomb.

Usage notesEdit

The two diametrical slang meanings are distinguished by the article. For “a success”, the phrase is generally the bomb. Otherwise bomb can mean “a failure”. (cf. the shit)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ bomb, n.”, in OED Online  , Oxford: Oxford University Press, launched 2000.
  2. ^ Jonathon Green (2018), “bomb, n.”, in Green’s Dictionary of Slang[1], Abecedary Limited, retrieved 24 May 2018