All terms

What is bombast?

Pompous or pretentious language.

Say What You Mean: Avoiding Bombast in Creative Writing

Bombast refers to language that is pompous, exaggerated, or pretentious. It is the writer's equivalent of wearing clothes that are two sizes too big - trying to appear more impressive or important than they really are. This type of language can turn off readers and distract from the message the writer is trying to convey.

The best way to avoid using bombastic language is to be clear and concise. Say what you mean, using simple and direct language. Avoid using unnecessarily complex words, convoluted syntax, or confusing metaphors. Instead, aim for clarity and simplicity. Use concrete language that draws a clear picture in the reader's mind.

Of course, there are times when a more elevated style is called for. Certain genres, such as epic fantasy or gothic horror, may require a more ornate and elaborate style of language. However, even in these cases, it's important to keep the writing clear and accessible by using context clues or providing definitions for more obscure words. When in doubt, err on the side of simplicity.

When Extravagant Language Fails: Examples of Bombast in Literature
Bombastic language is a common literary device used to convey exaggerated or grandiose ideas, but sometimes it can be too much even for the most indulgent reader.
'Fearful Symmetry' by William Blake

William Blake's famous poem, 'The Tyger,' employs bombast in its opening line: 'Tyger Tyger, burning bright, / In the forests of the night.' While the poem as a whole is a masterpiece of Romantic poetry, this opening line is an example of bombast, as it conjures an image of a majestic creature in a grandiose manner that might come across as overly exaggerated for some readers.

'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Coleridge's 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' uses bombast in its opening stanza: 'It is an ancient Mariner, And he stoppeth one of three. / 'By thy long grey beard and glittering eye, / Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?'' While this stanza sets the stage for the strange and haunting story that follows, the use of grandiose language here might be off-putting for some readers.