Advertisement
10 entries found
Search filter: All Results 
humbug (n.)
1751, student slang, "trick, jest, hoax, imposition, deception," of unknown origin. Also appearing as a verb at the same time, "deceive by false pretext" (trans.). A vogue word of the early 1750s; its origin was a subject of much whimsical speculation even then. "[A]s with other and more recent words of similar introduction, the facts as to its origin appear to have been lost, even before the word became common enough to excite attention" [OED]. Meaning "spirit of deception or imposition; hollowness, sham" is from 1825.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
humbuggery (n.)

"false pretense, imposition," by 1823, from humbug (q.v.) + -ery.

Related entries & more 
malarkey (n.)

also malarky, "lies and exaggerations, humbug," 1924, American English, of unknown origin. It also is an Irish surname. Meaning much the same thing at about the same time in U.S. slang was ackamarackus (1934).

Related entries & more 
spiritualist (n.)

1852, "one who believes in the ability of the living to communicate with the dead via a medium," from spiritual + -ist (also see spirit (n.)). Earlier (1640s) "one with regard for spiritual things." Related Spiritualistic.

Every two or three years the Americans have a paroxysm of humbug — ... at the present time it is Spiritual-ism. [J.Dix, "Transatlantic Tracings," 1853]
Related entries & more 
interview (n.)

1510s, "face-to-face meeting, formal conference," from French entrevue, verbal noun from s'entrevoir "to see each other, visit each other briefly, have a glimpse of," from entre- "between" (see inter-) + Old French voir "to see" (from Latin videre, from PIE root *weid- "to see"). Modern French interview is from English. Journalistic sense "conversation with someone to obtain statements for publication" is from 1869 in American English.

The 'interview,' as at present managed, is generally the joint product of some humbug of a hack politician and another humbug of a newspaper reporter. [The Nation, Jan. 28, 1869]

Meaning "personal meeting to discuss hiring or employment" is by 1921; earlier it was used in military recruiting (1918).

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
eyewash (n.)
"a wash or lotion for the eyes," 1866, from eye (n.) + wash (n.). Colloquial use for "blarney, humbug" (1884), chiefly British, perhaps is from the notion of "something intended to obscure or conceal facts or true motives." But this, and expression my eye also may be the verbal equivalent of the wink that indicates one doesn't believe what has been said (compare French mon oeil in same sense, accompanied by a knowing pointing of a finger to the eye).
Related entries & more 
fraud (n.)

mid-14c., "criminal deception" (mid-13c. in Anglo-Latin); from Old French fraude "deception, fraud" (13c.), from Latin fraudem (nominative fraus) "a cheating, deceit," of persons "a cheater, deceiver," of uncertain origin. Connections have been proposed to Sanskrit dhruti- "deception; error."

Meaning "a fraudulent production, something intended to deceive" is from 1650s. The meaning "impostor, deceiver, pretender; humbug" is attested from 1850. Pious fraud (1560s) is properly "deception practiced for the sake of what is deemed a good purpose;" colloquially used as "person who talks piously but is not pious at heart."

Related entries & more 
god-damn 

also goddamn, late 14c., "the characteristic national oath of Englishmen" [Century Dictionary]. from God + damn (v.). Goddam (Old French godon, 14c.) was said to have been a term of reproach applied to the English by the French.

Mais, fussent-ils [les anglais] cent mille Goddem de plus qu'a present, ils n'auront pas ce royaume. [Joan of Arc, 1431, quoted in Prosper de Barante's "Histoire des ducs de Bourgogne"]

Hence French godan "fraud, deception, humbug" (17c.). Compare Old French godeherre "characteristic exclamation uttered by the Germans," and goditoet, also considered a characteristic exclamation of the English. Goddammes was the nickname given by Puritans to Cavaliers, in consequence of the latter's supposed frequent employment of that oath.

Related entries & more 
shoddy (adj.)

1862, "having a delusive appearance of high quality," a Northern word from the American Civil War in reference to the quality of government supplies for the armies, from earlier noun meaning "rag-wool, wool made of woolen waste and old rags" (1832), perhaps a Yorkshire provincial word, of uncertain origin; according to Watkins from the same Old English source as shed (v.).

Originally used for padding, English manufacturers began making coarse wearing clothes from it, and when new it looked like broad-cloth but the gloss quickly wore off, giving the stuff a bad reputation as a cheat. The 1860 U.S. census of manufactures notes import of more than 6 million pounds of it, which was "much used in the manufacture of army and navy cloths and blankets in the United States" according to an 1865 government report.

The Days of Shoddy, as the reader will readily anticipate, are the opening months of the present war, at which time the opprobrious name first came into general use as a designation for swindling and humbug of every character; and nothing more need be said to indicate the scope of this novel. [Henry Morford, "The Days of Shoddy: A Novel of the Great Rebellion in 1861," Philadelphia, 1863]

Related: Shoddily; shoddiness.

Related entries & more 
gentleman (n.)

c. 1200, perhaps mid-12c., "well-born man, man of good family or birth," also extended to Roman patricians and ancient Greek aristocrats, from gentle + man (n.); the compound probably is modeled on Old French gentilhomme (the English gentleman itself was borrowed into French in 18c.).

Given specific uses in late Middle English (small gentleman, gentleman-of-arms, gentleman-usher, etc.), hence in England the word often meant any man above the social rank of a yeoman, including the nobility, but it was sometimes restricted to those who bear a coat of arms but not a title; in U.S., "man of property, not engaged in business or a profession" (1789). The English word from the beginning also had a special sense "nobleman whose behavior conforms to the ideals of chivalry and Christianity," and gentleman came to be used loosely for any man of good breeding, courtesy, kindness, honor, strict regard for the feelings of others, etc.

[The Gentleman] is always truthful and sincere ; will not agree for the sake of complaisance or out of weakness ; will not pass over that of which he disapproves. He has a clear soul, and a fearless, straightforward tongue. On the other hand, he is not blunt and rude. His truth is courteous ; his courtesy, truthful ; never a humbug, yet, where he truthfully can, he prefers to say pleasant things. [The Rev. John R. Vernon, "The Grand Old Name of Gentleman," in Contemporary Review, vol. XI, May-August 1869]

Eventually, in polite use, it came to mean a man in general, regardless of social standing. Related: Gentlemen. Gentleman's agreement is first attested 1929. Gentleman farmer recorded from 1749, "A man of means who farms on a large scale, employs hands, and does little or none of the work himself" [Craigie, "Dictionary of American English"].

Related entries & more