Sometimes in the heat of an argument I like to use old slang words just to mix it up. Here are a few of my favorite good old fashion slang words and how they came about. Some are really old-fangled and you whippersnappers may think this is just a bunch of gobbledygook. So, don’t get all discombobulated over this boondoggle of a blog post. It’s just more of my cockamamie hogwash you high-falutin ninny.
Bamboozle – to deceive, dupe, mislead, trick, swindle, etc. by underhanded methods.
The first use of the word “Bamboozle” is believed to date back to the early 1700s. One theory about the origin of the word is that “Bamboozle[d] originated from British exploits into southern Asia where some expedition members were lured into thick bamboo forests for various reasons and became disoriented in the myriad of thick growth.” See more
Balderdash – nonsense, something that is stupid.
1590s, of unknown origin; originally a jumbled mix of liquors (milk and beer, beer and wine, etc.), transferred 1670s to “senseless jumble of words.” See more
Dilly Dally – to waste time, to delay, especially by indecision; to procrastinate. To take too long to do something.
The base word “dally” came in from Old French hundreds of years ago and meant to chat idly. Over time “dally” picked up other meanings such as to toy with things or spend time idly. By the 19th century we get “dilly dally.” “Dilly dally” is an example of reduplication. That’s when you repeat the form of a word but change the vowel. See more
Doohickey – a small item or gadget, the name of which is not known or remembered by the person speaking.
A commonly held folk etymology for “doohickey” is that it derives from the mark left on a leaf after dew has evaporated, with said mark essentially being akin to the skin-blemish definition of the word “hickey.” Thus, lacking a commonly known word for such, people referred to this dew mark as a “dew hickey,” with this later evolving to “doohickey” and eventually expanded to be used to refer to anything that was a “thing” one couldn’t come up with the name of. See more
Lickety-Split – at great speed, quickly.
First attested about 1860, in the US, as a fanciful alteration of lick and the verb split. lick appears to have something to do with animals made to go faster by means of a “lick” of a whip, although it may have also originated due to a preference for rapid licking (the “quick lick”). See more
Lily Livered – weak or cowardly.
The first known use of lily-livered was in 1605. From the medieval belief that the liver was the seat of courage, and the pale color of the lily flower. A person who had no blood in their liver would have no courage and would thus be a coward. See more
Lollygag – to be lazy, to fool around, to waste time.
“Lollygag,” also known historically as “lallygag,” comes into English in the mid-19th century meaning to dawdle. However, at that time, “lollygag” also meant to fool around. Yes, that kind of fooling around. See more
Poppycock – nonsense; foolish talk.
Poppycock comes to us from Dutch immigrants to America who brought with them the word pappekak, which reputedly means soft dung. As one may imagine, the term lost its original dung meaning in its transformation into the word poppycock. See more
Shinola – ignorant, undiscerning, unaware, poor judgment, etc.
A colloquialism (“don’t know shit from shinola”) which dates back to the early 1940s in the United States. Shinola is a once-popular, now-defunct shoe polish brand, which had a color and texture not unlike feces; the joke in the idiom being that only a stupid person could confuse the two upon more than a passing glance. See more
Skedaddle – to run away in a panic, to flee.
It came into use during the American Civil War. “Skedaddle” first appeared in written accounts of battles in that war, used to mean “to retreat quickly; to flee”. The relatively sudden appearance of “skedaddle” as a fully-formed word tend to argue for its importation from another language. There are theories that attempt to trace “skedaddle” to various Swedish or Danish words but fail on lack of evidence. It is more probable that “skedaddle” is rooted in the Irish word “sgedadol,” meaning “scattered,” or the Scots word “skiddle,” meaning “to spill or scatter.” See more
And yes, I know, I am a real wisenheimer. Here’s spit in your eye you rat bastard!
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