Bomb comes from China via Spanish
The first time the word appears in English as a result of a translation from Spanish of bomba de fuego – fire ball. Parke’s rendition of Mendoza’s travel collection The history of the great and mighty kingdom of China which came out in 1588is very descriptive. It states that in war the Chinese used “many bombs of fire, full of old iron” and in this way “do much harm and destroy their enemies”. Of course this fits in well with the four great inventions of China (the compass, paper, printing and gunpowder). Gunpowder had been discovered some 1200 years ago and used in Chinese fire bombs soon afterwards. And it is exactly this type of bomb – known as the thunder-crash bomb and which was used in a battle in 1231 that was taken up in Spanish some 300 years later.
Bomb used in Europe only much later
The idea that bombs came from the air was reinforced as time went by. But it was only at the end of the 17th century that the bomb found its way into the language as a weapon used in general combat.
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