• gobbledygook •
Pronunciation: gah-bêl-dee-guk • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: (Slang) Pretentious bureaucratic jargon; the language of red tape, bureaucratese.
Notes: Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, when many of us will be gobbling up gobs of gobbler, we thought another often overlooked contribution of the turkey might be in order (see Word History for the connection). Gobbledygook is a loner: no adjective or verb, not even a plural. Of course, it is not standard or formal English so only use it humorously in (very) informal conversations. Remember, Ben Franklin proposed the wild turkey as the US national bird.
In Play: The creator of today's Good Word originally intended it as a more descriptive terms for bureaucratese: "I can't read all that gobbledygook on the tax returns; I send the IRS what I can afford and leave it up to them to fill out the forms." However, it is the stock and trade of any con artist who tries to pretext you: "The guy fed me some gobbledygook about banking investigation that required an unvoided check for $2000 from me; I threw him out."
Word History: Texas cattleman Samuel Maverick (1803-1870) let the calves in his herd roam unbranded. Initially, ranchers who "adopted" them simply referred to the calves as Maverick's but the term soon migrated into mavericks, a word that remains in English today. What does that have to do with gobbledygook? Well, Sam's grandson, Maury Maverick, served two terms in the US House of Representative (1935-1939) where he had difficulty communicating with his congressional colleagues. He said it was because they spoke gobbledygook. When asked, he responded that the word was based on the sound of turkeys (the flying kind) back in Texas, who were ". . . always gobbledy-gobbling and strutting with ludicrous pomposity." At the end of this gobble, according to Representative Maverick, there is a sort of gook. (Today we thank Chris Berry for cutting through the gobbledygook and finding this Good and funny Word.)[/quote]