The word "Buncombe" has, along with its variations of "bunk" and "bunkum," entered American slang as a term synonymous with meaningless speech. The popular term for pretentious and nonsensical talk originated with Felix Walker, a U.S. congressman (1817-23) who represented a region in western North Carolina that included Buncombe County. Walker gave a high-sounding speech on a militia pension bill to a nearly empty congressional chamber. Afterward, when questioned about his reasons for the verbiage, he reportedly stated that he was "speaking . . . to Buncombe." This elicited the response: "And buncombe your talk certainly was." Thereafter the term was used to refer to insincere political speech but was later expanded to include any trivial and overblown application of language.
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Richard Walser, The North Carolina Miscellany (1962).
Rawson, Hugh. "Why Do We Say...? Bunk." American Heritage 57. Issue 5. October 2006. http://www.americanheritage.com/content/why-do-we-say-18 (November 1, 2012).
"Felix Walker." North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program. https://www.ncdcr.gov/about/history/division-historical-resources/nc-highway-historical-marker-program/Markers.aspx?ct=ddl&sp=search&k=Markers&sv=P-26 (November 1, 2012).
Graham, Nicholas. "February 1820 - Bunkum." This Month in North Carolina History (blog). February 2004. http://www.lib.unc.edu/ncc/ref/nchistory/feb2004/feb.html (November 1, 2012).
"WALKER, Felix, (1753 - 1828)" Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=W000050 (November 1, 2012).
Walker, Felix. 1907. Memoirs of a Southern congressman ranging the Southern borderlands with Daniel Boone encounters with the Cherokees in command of the light dragoons electioneering in American politics a hundred years ago ; on the floor of Congress during the Monroe administration ; autobiography. New Haven, Conn: s.n. http://robertson-ancestry.com/1265-02.htm (November 1, 2012).
A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 - 1875.
Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 16th Congress, 1st Session. Pages 1539 & 1540 http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llac&fileName=036/llac036.db&recNum=131
"Missouri Question -- SPEECH of MR. WALKER, OF N.C." City of Washington [D.C.] Gazette. 05-11-1820; Volume V; Issue: 759; Page: . http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Missouri_Question:_Speech_of_Mr._Walker,_of_N.C. (November 1, 2012).
1 January 2006 | Faulkner, Ronnie W.