Printable Version
Pronunciation: fahl-dêr-ahl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Balderdash, blather, bunkum, claptrap, codswallop, crap, drivel, flap-doodle, garbage, gobbledygook, hogwash, horse pucky, humbug, malarkey, nonsense, piffle, poppycock, rubbish, twaddle, wish-wash, (add your favorite here). 2. Gewgaw, chachka, knickknack, bauble, doodad, in other words, any showy but worthless trinket.

Notes: English has mounted a formidable arsenal of words to stem the tide of nonsense. This funny word is one among a mighty army of synonyms mocking drivel, but nothing seems to help. It is used mostly in conversation, so the spelling is a bit shaky; some prefer spelling it falderal. That's OK, too.

In Play: We are pretty free to substitute this funny word for any of those in its definition above: "Members of the Flat Earth Society are convinced that all this talk about a round Earth is pure folderol." Don't forget the second sense of this word though: "Lacie Curtain's place is filled with cheap folderol she collected all over the planet." By the way, ignore the rumor that they're considering changing the name of the US capital from Washington to Folderopolis—yep, just more folderol.

Word History: This word started out as a nonsense line in songs of the 19th century. Few of the songs have been recorded, since they were mostly sung from memory. Sir Walter Scott included a few lines of an old Scottish ballad in his novel The Bride of Lammermoor (1819): "There was a haggis in Dunbar, Fal de ral, etc., Mony better and few waur, Fal de ral, etc." In his dramatic monologue, Mr. Sludge The Medium (1864), Robert Browning begins a paragraph of Mr. Sludge's attempted rationalization of his (mis)deeds with "Fol-lol-the-rido-liddle-iddle-ol!" These lines are not far removed from the fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la sprinkled throughout the Christmas carol, "Deck the Halls."

Dr. Goodword,

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