The word bunk has two unrelated definitions: a "type of bed" and "nonsense". The "type of bed" meaning was probably a shortening of bunker, which was originally a Scottish slang term for a type of seat (beyond that, the etymology is uncertain). The second meaning is also a shortening, this time of the now-archaic noun bunkum (also "nonsense"), and that word is a corruption of the North Carolinian county name Bumcombe! For the story behind that, we turn to a debate on the floor of the U.S. Congress in 1820, when a North Carolina Representative called Felix Walker gave a very long and boring speech regarding the Missouri Compromise. Several other congressmen called for him to wrap it up, but he persisted, repeatedly saying that he wanted a quote of his to be featured in local papers and that it was a speech for Buncombe, not Congress. Thereafter, bunkum came to be associated with political claptrap and then nonsense in general, and Walker left his mark on history.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy philosophy, trivia, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.