- Military. a projectile, formerly usually spherical, filled with a bursting charge and exploded by means of a fuze, by impact, or otherwise, now generally designed to be dropped from an aircraft.
- any similar missile or explosive device used as a weapon, to disperse crowds, etc.: a time bomb; a smoke bomb.
- Also called volcanic bomb. Geology. a rough spherical or ellipsoidal mass of lava, ejected from a volcano and hardened while falling.
- weather bomb.
- aerosol bomb.
- Football. a long forward pass, especially one to a teammate who scores a touchdown.
- Slang. an absolute failure; fiasco: The play was a bomb and closed after two performances.
- Computers. a spectacular program failure or system failure.
- the bomb, Slang. something or someone that is excellent or very impressive: Her boyfriend is the bomb!
- Chiefly British Slang. an overwhelming success: The novel is selling like a bomb.
- Jazz. a sudden, unexpected accent or rhythmic figure played by a drummer during a performance.
- a lead or lead-lined container for transporting and storing radioactive materials.
- the bomb,
- atomic bomb.
- nuclear weapons collectively.
- Slang. a powerful automobile or other vehicle.
- Slang. something unpleasant that is unexpected or shocking (often used in combination with the first letter of an offensive or unmentionable word, as in f-bomb; s-bomb; n-bomb): He’s always dropping the f-bomb. Then came the bomb about the staff cuts.
- Slang. something unauthorized or illegal that is executed in a stealthy manner, typically having an overwhelming or sensational effect (used in combination, as in mail bomb; graffiti bomb).
verb (used with object)
- to hurl bombs at or drop bombs upon, as from an airplane; bombard: The enemy planes bombed the city.
- to explode by means of a bomb or explosive.
- to damage, ruin, defeat, etc., as if with bombs.
- Computers. to deliberately cause (a computer system) to fail with a program written for the purpose.
verb (used without object)
- to hurl or drop bombs.
- to explode a bomb or bombs.
- Slang. to be or make a complete failure, especially to fail to please or gain an audience (sometimes followed by out): His last play bombed on Broadway. The business bombed out with a $25,000 debt.
- (of a computer program or system) to fail spectacularly.
- Slang. to spray-paint graffiti over many surfaces in an area, working quickly and using simple forms and designs: He made his reputation bombing on the east side of town.
- Informal. to move very quickly: They came bombing through here on their motorcycles at 2 a.m.
- (adverb; tr, usually passive) to make homeless by bombing24 families in this street have been bombed out
- a hollow projectile containing an explosive, incendiary, or other destructive substance, esp one carried by aircraft
- (as modifier)bomb disposal; a bomb bay
- (in combination)a bombload; bombproof
- any container filled with explosivea car bomb; a letter bomb
- the bomb
- a hydrogen or atomic bomb considered as the ultimate destructive weapon
- slangsomething excellentit’s the bomb
- a round or pear-shaped mass of volcanic rock, solidified from molten lava that has been thrown into the air
- med a container for radioactive material, applied therapeutically to any part of the bodya cobalt bomb
- British slang a large sum of money (esp in the phrase make a bomb)
- US and Canadian slang a disastrous failurethe new play was a total bomb
- Australian and NZ slang an old or dilapidated motorcar
- American football a very long high pass
- (in rugby union) another term for up-and-under
- like a bomb British and NZ informal with great speed or success; very well (esp in the phrase go like a bomb)
- to attack with or as if with a bomb or bombs; drop bombs (on)
- (intr; often foll by off, along, etc) informal to move or drive very quickly
- (intr) slang to fail disastrously; be a flopthe new play bombed See also bomb out
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. Originally of mortar shells, etc.; modern sense of “explosive device placed by hand or dropped from airplane” is 1909. Meaning “old car” is from 1953. Meaning “success” is from 1954 (late 1990s slang the bomb “the best” is probably a fresh formation); opposite sense of “a failure” is from 1963. The bomb “atomic bomb” is from 1945.
1680s, from bomb (n.). Meaning “to fail” attested from 1963. Related: Bombed; bombing. Slang bombed “drunk” is attested by 1956.
see time bomb.