DEBUNK [dih-BUHNGHK] : to expose the falseness of a statement

There is a lot of energy out there among people who are into debunking stories such as those about Sasquatch, the hairy half-human being who supposedly inhabits forested areas throughout the country.   I read this past week that a specially-equipped surveillance plane is going to be used to hover over suspected domains where Sasquatch is thought to live.   Also known as “Bigfoot,” the creature is either a great traveler, or there are multiple examples of this being.  At last count there were something like 75 locations around the country where there have been “sightings” of the creature.

As with the Loch Ness Monster and my favorite, Champ, the monster who lives in Lake Champlain, people get excited by such stories and it excites imaginations of children and adults alike.   But there are also folk out there who revel in the possibility of debunking the stories and proving them to be hoaxes.   Unlike Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, these characters are not protected by centuries of parental security guards.   They are vulnerable.

The word, debunk, is interesting.   The  Online Etymology Dictionary makes a fascinating point that segues into the object of my spending this morning looking at the word debunk.

1923, from de- + bunk; first used by U.S. novelist William Woodward (1874-1950), the notion being “to take the bunk out of things.”
The date is helpful and the source is very helpful.   But the point that catches my eye is that in quotes:
“to take the bunk out of things.”
Does that mean that there is a word, bunk, that means something other than an uncomfortable bed for children?  Well, The Urban Dictionary, which I have found to be more and more fascinating, answers that question.  It doesn’t even mention a bed in its definitions.   The best variation on its meanings is this:
Bogus. Not genuine. Counterfeit. A total sham. Illegitimate. Nonsense.
(Just to be honest, the Urban Dictionary also points out the use of the word as used in the drug culture.)

So, I guess the word debunk means to expose the fact that something that is presented as fact is actually bogus, not genuine, counterfeit, a total sham, illegitimate and/or nonsense.    Hmmmm.

My suspicion is that this word is readily available to pundits, commentators, and speech writers who may be paying any attention to the current political campaigns, both nationally and locally.   My own perception is that there is a lot of bunk out there that is eligible to be debunked.   Birthers don’t have a corner on the market.

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Photo Credit:  Fortean Picture Library

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