Printable Version
Pronunciation: hahg-wahsh Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: 1. Hog slops, swill, table waste fed to hogs. 2. Anything we drink that is of extremely poor quality. 3. Bull-puckey, bunkum, codswallop, fiddle-faddle, flapdoodle, horse feathers, hooey, hokum, malarkey, poppycock, tommy-rot, tripe, whang-doodle, or common, everyday windbaggery.

Notes: Before waste disposals, people used to feed to their pigs what they now throw down the waste disposal. (I'm not sure what people who didn't raise hogs did with theirs.) I can recall at my grandparents' house the slop bucket, whereto we scraped the scraps of every meal. Water was always added so the pigs wouldn't choke on the chunks.

In Play: I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: the superabundance of synonyms for this concept must reflect a prevalence of nonsense in our society. We generally associate this word with politics: "I don't believe a word of all that hogwash coming out of Washington." Don't forget that this word can also be used in reference to what we drink: "Chick Pease thinks skimmed milk is nothing but hogwash."

Word History: Today's Good Word is obviously a compound noun made up of hog + wash. The origin of the first word in this compound is difficult to trace. Late Latin hoggus seems to have been borrowed from English rather than the other way around! The origin of wash is a bit clearer. It comes from the same source as water, Proto-Indo-European wed- "wet, water". You have probably already guessed that the PIE word also underlies English wet, but did you know that whiskey comes from the same source? This word was originally uisce "water" in Old Irish. In fact, the same holds true of vodka: it comes from Russian voda "water", which originated in wed-, too. (It's no hogwash that we are grateful to Lynne Flake for suggesting today's funny little Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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