Bomphiologia, verborum bombus, is the use of big words to brag about oneself in an exaggerated manner. It is braggadocio at its best. The words uttered do not have to be entirely true, but they are nevertheless meant to convey self-importance and hint at uniqueness. Bragging and bombastic words and behaviors fall under this mode of rhetoric.
Bomphiologia in Rhetoric
The use of bomphiologia in rhetoric has to come along with other elements of writing or orating. There is the use of rich language full of metaphor and identifiable features using colorful language. Hence, speakers or orators using the rhetoric device must have a rich vein of vocabulary. Exaggeration and hyperbole are other techniques usually used with the rhetoric device.
Examples of Bomphiologia
Celebrities, athletes, politicians, and rappers use bomphiologia a lot in a variety mostly to establish their dominance while putting down a rival. Here are a few examples of the rhetoric art of bragging in style used by two famous people: Muhammad Ali the boxer and Kanye West, the rapper.
Muhammad Ali (American professional boxer)
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
Muhammad Ali was bragging about his boxing style. He was a big man in the ring, 6’3” but his movement was fast and mesmerizing (like a butterfly). His punches were quick and sharp. One moment he would be backpedaling away from opponents, and in an instant, he would deliver a surprise package of punches to opponents.
Boxers and martial artists such as Floyd Mayweather Jnr., Anthony Joshua, and Connor Mcgregor usually use bomphiologia to intimidate opponents.
There are several quotes by Muhammad Ali that use bomphiologia. He once said that he “arrested lightning” and “jailed thunder”. These are physically impossible feats
In these cases, Muhammad Ali was bragging about his strength and power. To top it off, Muhammad Ali was a great boxer. One can only imagine how people felt when he said these words confidently. Probably, fans felt elated; neutrals admired his confidence and opponents felt challenged to respond likewise with bomphiologia.
Kanye West (American rapper)
In the modern age, Kanye West uses bomphiologia a lot. He often tweets about how he is a genius. For example in his 2012 song “Clique” he raps:
“Break records at Louis, ate breakfast at Gucci, my girl a superstar all from a home movie.”
— Kanya West
Louis and Gucci are expensive brands when Kanye mentions them he is bragging about the fact that he is rich. The girl he is talking about is Kim Kardashian, a massive source of pride for him.
Using Bomphiologia The Right Way
In the examples given, both Kanye West and Muhammad Ali brag, but some of it is true.
For bomphiologia to work, there must be at least some element of truth or an allusion. Bomphiologia is not words carelessly strewn together, but the word choice must be meticulous, controversial and most importantly a little bit factual or alluding to some undeniable truth.