Printable Version
Pronunciation: mê-lahr-kee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Balderdash, blather, b.s., bunkum, claptrap, crap, drivel, garbage, horse pucky, humbug, idiocy, nonsense, piffle, poppycock, rigmarole, rubbish, trash, twaddle (feel free to add your favorite).

Notes: Judging from the long but still partial list of synonyms in the definition above, it would seem that English speakers have a low tolerance for speech that doesn't make sense (codswallop, folderol, gobbledygook, etc.) We go out of our way to create nonsensical words to express the notion of nonsense. Well, at least that makes sense.

In Play: Although it is a good English word, this one is another you wouldn't use in formal writing. It is strictly for conversational purposes: "There is more malarkey in the philosophy department here than there is on Capitol Hill." It is true that malarkey surrounds us: "I haven't heard so much malarkey since Phil Anders tried to explain what he and his research assistant were up to in the cloak room."

Word History: This word first emerged in the US in 1922 but no one knows where it came from. There is an Irish surname, Malarkey, but no one of that name seems to have been blessed with a greater gift of blarney than any other Irishman. Someone has suggested that it might be related to Greek malakos "soft", but that's malarkey since it doesn't seem to be the concoction of someone versed in the classics. We will have to chalk it up as another mystery unsolved by the word sleuths. And that's no malarkey.

Dr. Goodword,

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