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Where did that come from - Bunk should be debunked
Stan St. Clair

“Bunk” is a term which is not yet in any of my books. Most of us have probably wondered where it came from. This usage sure had nothing to do with beds!

As a shortened for of bunkum, this was a corruption of Buncombe, a county in Western North Carolina in which Asheville is the county seat. I have lived in Tennessee most of my life, but I was brought up not too far from there.

In 1820, Felix Walker, the U.S. Representative in Congress from that district, stood up on the House floor to address the question of admitting Missouri to the Union as a free or slave state. There had been almost a month of debate on the subject and the vote was about to be held. This was Walker’s first attempt to speak. To everyone’s consternation, he began a lengthy, wearisome speech, explaining how he was addressing Buncombe only on the matter. His colleagues reportedly ended up shouting him down. His speech ended up being published in a Washington paper, making Buncombe, later to be spelled “bunkum,” a synonym for meaningless political clatter. Later it became a standard part of popular culture, was shortened to “bunk,” and came to refer to any kind of nonsense. 

From this also comes “debunk,” meaning to expose the falseness or hollowness of an idea or belief. There is a lot of nonsense in the world today and politics still has more than its share!  

If you would like to know the origin of a favorite expression, text the author at 931-212-3303 or email him at stan@stclair.net.