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blunderbuss (BLUN-duhr-bus) noun

1. A short, wide-mouthed gun used to scatter shots at close range.

2. A clumsy, blundering person.


Clumsy, blundering.

[Alteration of Dutch donderbus, from donder (thunder) + bus (gun, tube). The gun wasn't known for its precise shot. Its scattershot effect resulted in its name being altered from donderbus to blunderbuss. It wasn't long before the word was applied to insensitive, blundering persons.]

"Those blunderbuss editors at Webster's New World College Dictionary (you know, the third edition), had it coming." Mark Story; Resilient Braves Worthy of Own Lexicon; Herald-Leader (Lexington, Kentucky); Jul 25, 2003.

"Buchanan must grapple not only with the president's well-tuned political machine but with the weakness of his own message and the blunderbuss way he conveys it." Matthew Cooper and Thom Geier; Waning Cry from the Right; U.S.News & World Report (Washington, DC); Feb 17, 1992.

This week's theme: words for insults.


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