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12 Comments

  • Nice set of words! Interesting how, apart from the ruder ones, these all have an old-fashioned flavour. The same applies to my personal favourite, “tosh”, which is labelled “old-fashioned” in the dictionary. Like the ones you mention, it’s often preceded by “a load of”, and also the usual intensifiers (complete, total, utter, absolute), and sometimes simply appears as “What tosh!” Like “crap”, “rot” etc, tosh has the merit of being short (and therefore satisfyingly dismissive).

  • Great to revisit these and discover a whole load more, Stan. It’s long been a very rich area of the lexicon, that seems to be becoming comparatively impoverished these days. One of my favourites, which again shows the link with food (esp. for animals, cf. ‘swill’ and ‘hogwash’), is ‘pabulum’, which OED defines as ‘Bland intellectual fare; an insipid or undemanding diet of words, entertainment, etc. Rather like ‘pap’, but more pompous sounding.

  • Americans have largely abandoned polite euphemisms in this category as insufficiently contemtuous and direct.

  • Michael: “satisfyingly dismissive” is just right. It is curious that so many are old-fashioned – and gratifying that they remain available to us.

    Diane: Pabulum‘s a fine word, but it definitely has more of a literary flavour. Tripe also shows the link with food that you mention.

    Michael: The terms we use here (in Ireland) to refer to nonsense are also very likely to be direct and unsparing.

  • Nice blog, Stan.
    Since O’Brien didn’t translate An Béal Bocht himself, it would be interesting to see if “ráiméis” is used in the original. Most likely it is.

  • As well as hogwash there’s also eyewash, both quite old-fashioned

    The rhyming pair ‘tosh’ and ‘bosh’ are good too! Or should I say – they are bad.

  • Niall: I presume that’s how it’s spelt in the original. I must check when I get a chance.

    Linguagenius: Eyewash is a new one on me! Your rhyming pair reminded me of Hugh Laurie’s tish and pish in Blackadder.

  • Re ‘eyewash’. Following the outbreak of World War 1 the then Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, appointed Major Ernest Swinton as the only official war correspondent . This was done so that the Government could control the information about the war being published by the UK press. His by line was ‘Eyewitness’, but among the soldiers he was known as ‘Eyewash’. Such was the spin put on these reports so as not to unduly alarm the UK public they in all probablity were referred to by the soldiers as ‘a load of old eyewash!’