the bomb

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: bomb, Bomb, and the Bomb


Alternative forms[edit]


Attested in reference to nuclear weapons or the capacity to use them since 1932;[1] see quotations, below. As slang for something excellent, the phrase is attested since the 1960s; compare go down a bomb, UK theatre slang during the 1950s meaning “be a major success”.[2] For further etymology see bomb.


  • (file)


the bomb (usually uncountable, plural the bombs)

  1. (informal, often capitalized) The atomic bomb; the capability to launch a nuclear attack.
    Pakistan and India both have the Bomb now.
    • 1932, Harold Nicolson, “Public Faces”, in The Spectator, volume 149, page 558:
      The Cabinet, when faced with this proffered omnipotence, had recoiled in fear. True it was that their acute distaste for the bomb [] did credit to their humanity, to their state of civilization.
    • 1962, Kwame Nkruma, The World Without the Bomb: Selections from the Papers of “the Accra Assembly”, page 3:
      In my view, the tensions which have produced the “World with the Bomb” can be divided into roughly four classes.
    • 1965, Tom Lehrer (lyrics and music), “Who's Next”, in That Was The Year That Was, side 2, track 5:
      First we got the bomb and that was good,
      'Cause we love peace and motherhood.
      Then Russia got the bomb, but that's O.K.,
      'Cause the balance of power's maintained that way!
  2. (slang) A success; something excellent.
    Their new record is the bomb.
    That party was the bomb!
    • 1997, Sheneska Jackson, Li'l Mama's Rules, page 152:
      She’s happy, she’s found a little big-head boy who thinks she’s the bomb.

Usage notes[edit]

The two diametrical slang meanings are distinguished by the article. For “a success”, the phrase is generally the bomb. Otherwise bomb can mean “a failure”. (cf. the shit)


  1. ^ bomb, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, launched 2000.
  2. ^ Jonathon Green (2022), “bomb, n.”, in Green's Dictionary of Slang, retrieved 24 May 2018