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codswallop

Printable Version Pronunciation: kahds-wah-lêp Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Bull, bunkum, fiddle-faddle, flapdoodle, hogwash, horse feathers, hooey, hokum, malarkey, poppycock, tommy-rot, whang-doodle, or common, everyday windbaggery.

Notes: This word, which reeks of the days of Uriah Heap, Mr. Micawber, and the Artful Dodger, is in fact so recent a coinage that it has had no time to build a family. It is so English, however, we can easily project a codswalloper who engages in codswallopery, not to mention a naked verb: "You know that Hiram Cheaply is codswalloping if his lips are moving."

In Play: It is an unfortunate fact of modern life that we need a steady stream of words meaning "nonsense": "All that talk about Harry Beard's work in the government being top secret is codswallop, unless the government keeps his work secret to avoid embarrassment." Of course, governments usually provide the finest in codswallop: "For the best in codswallop, flapdoodle, and gobbledygook, we can now turn to Congress's own TV network, C-SPAN."

Word History: One story of the origin of this word would have Hiram Codd patenting a bottle for fizzy drinks with a neck containing a marble that kept the bottle shut until it was pressed inwards. That would have been back in the 19th century. Wallop then was a slang word for beer, so Codd's wallop could have been used by beer drinkers as a term for bad beer or soft drinks. The problem is that codswallop first appeared in print only in the 1950s. Moreover, while the word has been spelled cod's wallop, there is no published evidence of any spelling Codd's wallop. Conclusion? No one has any idea where this word comes from.

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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