• malarkey •
Pronunciation: mê-lahr-kee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: Balderdash, blather, bunkum, claptrap, codswallop, crap, drivel, fiddle-faddle, flapdoodle, garbage, hogwash, hooey, hokum, horse feathers, horse pucky, humbug, nonsense, piffle, poppycock, rubbish, tommy-rot, or common, everyday whang-doodle.
Notes: This word dropped into English in the 1920s seemingly out of nowhere (see Word History). It is a lexical orphan, which means it has no derivational relatives, but there is one caveat worth mentioning: don't forget to insert the E before the Y at the end of this playful word.
In Play: We have bags of candidates for malarkey: "Flying saucers! Every story I've heard about them is pure malarkey." We find many such candidates around the office, for example: "Why didn't you show up for work yesterday? And don't give me all that malarkey about going to your grandfather's funeral; you used that one three times already this year."
Word History: Where this word came from is anyone's guess. There is an Irish family name, Malarkey, but no reason attaches the meaning of today's Good Word to this name. It has been suggested that it might be a borrowing from Modern Greek, where malakos means "soft". The R has been occasionally omitted in malarkey. But this word seems hardly the vocabulary of someone versed in the classical languages. It first appeared in print in 1924, in the Indiana, Pennsylvania Evening Gazette (12 March 13/1): "The rest of the chatter is so much malarkey, according to a tip so straight that it can be passed thru a peashooter without touching the sides." This is all we know. (I would like to thank our editors, Paul Ogden, Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira, and Mary Jane Stoneburg for their stalwart job of editing the Good Words every day. All remaining errors are solely my responsibility. And that's no malarkey.)