• poppycock •
pah-pee-kahk • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass (No plural)
Meaning: Bull, bunkum, fiddle-faddle, flapdoodle, hogwash, horse feathers, hooey, hokum, malarkey, nonsense, tommy-rot, whang-doodle, or common, everyday gobbledygook.
Notes: Here is another colorful substitute for nonsense. As I?ve mentioned before, it is a shame we need so many ways to express this particular concept. It is a funny word that might have been included in The 100 Funniest Words in English but was somehow overlooked.
In Play: Americans probably associate this word with England but, as we will see in the History, it originates in the US. However, we may feel free to use it wherever English is spoken: "Lionel made up some poppycock about his car running into a flock of birds on the freeway as an excuse for being late to work again." You might even find a use for this word in the workplace: "Management's decision to move forward on the development of the helicopter ejector seat was based on some fact-free poppycock from the marketing department."
Word History: Today's silly word has nothing to do with poppies or roosters. It comes from a Dutch dialect probably spoken in New York or Pennsylvania in the 1830s. The word then was poppekak "doll poop" found only in an idiomatic phrase referring to religious zeal, which I will not repeat here. This compound noun is composed of poppe "baby, doll" + kak "poop". Poppe "baby, doll" is a member of a family of words with similar meanings, including English puppet and puppy and Late Latin puppa "doll". Kak was borrowed by Dutch from Latin cacare "to poop", which came from the same word that gave Greek kakos "bad". This word turns up in English borrowings, such as cacophony "discordant sound".
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