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BOONDOGGLE

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BOONDOGGLE

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:31 pm

• boondoggle •


Pronunciation: bun-dah-gêlHear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A cord of braided leather or plastic used to decorate saddles and Boy Scout uniforms, the creation of which some see as busywork. 2. A pork barrel project, a useless project that is a waste of time and/or money. The latest term in Washington today is "an earmark", i.e. a project in a bill earmarked to bring money to a legislator's district for a project of questionable value.

Notes: This word is clearly a frontier concoction from US English, so we wouldn't expect much in terms of derivations. A person who boondoggles is a boondoggler who engages in boondoggling. That's about it.

In Play: The scientific projects supported by the National Science Foundation are often perceived as boondoggles by the media: "Ira, don't you think that your idea for nuclear hand grenades might be taken as a boondoggle—even in Washington?" But boondoggles are not limited to Washington; they are all around us: "That job of Ally Katz as manager of rodent control is nothing but a boondoggle so long as she is chasing rats in the literal sense of the word." And remember: even the Boy Scouts have their boondoggles!

Word History: No one knows exactly where today's Good Word comes from. It is clearly a US nonce word whose silliness ingratiated it into our vocabulary. Prior to 1935 today's Good Word was simply a synonym of gadget, widget, thingamajig, or whatchamacallit. The Boy Scouts began using this word around in the mid to late 20s in reference to a strap of braided leather or plastic strips used to hold keys and the like to their uniforms (see picture above). Braiding such straps was seen as a waste of time, so boondoggle became the word for wasting effort on a useless task. The word then moved to Washington, where it became the word for the waste of time and money in government agencies. From there, it spread throughout the English-speaking world.
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Postby Stargzer » Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:32 pm

All of us here are extremely grateful that Dr. Goodword did not believe that sponsoring AlphaDictionary.com and our own virtual sandbox, the AlphaAgora, was a boondoggle for Lexiteria.

Thanks, Doc!
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Postby gailr » Wed Mar 12, 2008 3:41 am

Hear! Hear!
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Postby Perry » Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:55 pm

Where? Where?
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Postby sluggo » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:00 am

Their 'they're'!
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Postby Bailey » Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:25 am

one wonders if one could use
lan·yard also lan·iard (lnyrd)
n.
1. Nautical A short rope or gasket used for fastening something or securing rigging.
2. A cord worn around the neck for carrying something, such as a knife or whistle.
3. A cord with a hook at one end used to fire a cannon.



[Perhaps alteration (influenced by yard1, spar) of Middle English lainere, strap, from Old French laniere, from lasne, perhaps alteration (influenced by las, string) of *nasle, lace, of Germanic origin.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

to designate a project in a bill earmarked to bring money to a legislator's district for a project of questionable value.
as an alternate?

mb.

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Postby Perry » Thu Mar 13, 2008 7:35 pm

One wonders if one could stop earmarking money to a legislator's district for a project of questionable value, as an alternative?
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Re: BOONDOGGLE

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:13 am

Bailey: your mention of lanyard came just-in-time. My sweet wife, who is not very interested in Alpha Agora, was going to teach at Vacation Bible School this morning and said she couldn't go without her lanyard. My immediate response was, "Do you have to tie the little buggers down to get them to listen?" She introduced me to definition 2 in your post which I was did not know and of which I was skeptical. I didn’t know it, but I have quite a few lanyards. Most of them have ID badges or placards on them.
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Re: BOONDOGGLE

Postby Slava » Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:37 am

Ancient history, but in the original post the Doctor says "see picture above." It is not there. It is now here:

boondoggle.gif
boondoggle.gif (2.17 KiB) Viewed 1810 times


Personally, I've always thought of a boondoggle as an expensive and not all that worthwhile all-expense paid trip from a corporation or lobbying block.
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Re: BOONDOGGLE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:02 pm

Lanyard brings back memories of Boy Scout camp. A major activity was weaving the flat, plastic, multi-colored strings into lanyards. There were two basic kinds. The one i could do turned out as square in cross-section. The one I envied, but could not accomplish, was round. Phillip, I can't believe you escaped those!
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Re: BOONDOGGLE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:06 pm

P.S. I never heard a lanyard referred to as a boondoggle. Never once! In a state with innumerable boondoggles, we perpetually hear of the political kind.
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Re: BOONDOGGLE

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:46 pm

Perry: When one lived as far into the sticks as I did as a child, one never got a chance to be a Boy Scout. If one's mother were the icon of an iconoclast, one didn't join anything like the Boy Scouts. In our family we weren’t joiners. We did have lanyards of the rope kind. We usually called them riattas and roped cattle with them.

I am surprised that I can find so little reference to a lanyard for carrying a nametag or other ID. I have worn one of these all my engineering career. Now I wear one when I teach a class or greet people at the church door.
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Re: BOONDOGGLE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:14 pm

My oldest son is learning the riatta art to catch calves.
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Re: BOONDOGGLE

Postby Slava » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:43 pm

Perry Lassiter wrote:My oldest son is learning the riatta art to catch calves.

Okay, I'm going to leap off and take up two entirely new words in this thread: Is there a difference between a riata and a lasso? I met a professional lasso roper who had never even heard the term riata.
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Re: BOONDOGGLE

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Jun 22, 2013 12:19 am

Slava: We say riata, lasso and lariat for the same kind of rope. The professional lassoer you met probably is not from Texas. All three words are from the Spanish language, transmogrified into English.
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