The UVic Writer's Guide



Bombast (originally the cotton stuffing that puffed out the breeches of Jacobean gentlemen) is language that is rhetorically inflated or stuffed out of proportion to its subject (see also bathos, and hyperbole ). Although many writers lapse into bombast at times, it is especially characteristic of the heroic drama of the Restoration Period, which Fielding parodies in Tom Thumb the Great (1731): King Arthur, enthusiastic at Tom's victory, wishes to flood the entire land with joyful tears:

Let all men cry for joy,
Till my whole Court be drowned with their tears;
Nay, till they overflow my utmost land,
And leave me nothing but the sea to rule.

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 23, 1995