1751, in Oxford and Cambridge student slang, "a trick, jest, hoax, imposition, deception," a word of unknown origin; it also appeared simultaneously as a transitive verb, "deceive by false pretext." 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].
THERE is a word very much in vogue with the people of taste and fashion, which, though it has not even the penumbra of a meaning, yet makes up the sum total of the wit, sense, and judgment of the aforesaid people of taste and fashion. This word is HUMBUG. [The Student, vol. II no. 2, 1751]
The meaning "spirit of deception or imposition; hollowness, sham" is from 1825.
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).
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]
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).
"nonsense; deceit, humbug," 1855, American English slang, of uncertain origin. Earliest records of it are in California (San Francisco and Sacramento). Suggestions include Spanish chanada, a shortened form of charranada "trick, deceit;" or, less likely, German Schenigelei, peddler's argot for "work, craft," or the related German slang verb schinäglen. Another guess centers on Irish sionnach "fox," and the form is perhaps conformed to an Irish surname.
"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).
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."
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.
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, kind of cloth made of woolen waste and old rags" (1832), "presumably orig. a factory word" [Century Dictionary], which is perhaps a Yorkshire provincial word, itself of uncertain origin; according to Watkins, it could be from the same Old English source as shed (v.).
Originally the material was used for padding. English manufacturers in 19c. began making coarse wearing clothes from it. When new it looked like broad-cloth but the gloss quickly wore off, giving the stuff a reputation as a commercial 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 citizen-soldier's experience with it in the war, and the fortunes made on it by contractors, thrust the word into sudden prominence.
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.