Sometimes you can’t call bullshit by its name. To avoid repetition, to write in places that prohibit curse words, or just to be more descriptive, you need synonyms.
Thanks to Stephen Chrisomalis on a site called The Phrontistery, I now have a useful list of synonyms for bullshit.
Here are some of my favorites. Descriptions from Phrontistery, commentary from me:
ackamarackus. pretentious or deceptive nonsense (useful for describing press releases)
balderdash nonsense; a jumble of words (fling this out at your next staff meeting)
ballyhoo bombastic or pretentious nonsense (useful for describing vacuous political speeches)
bambosh deceptive nonsense (new to me, but I like the sound of it)
bletherskate a garrulous talker of nonsense (give ’em a copy of my book)
buncombe speech-making intended for the mass media; humbug (synonym: demagoguery)
bunk nonsense; humbug (a description notable for brevity and clarity)
bushwa nonsense (please, let’s bring this back into idle discourse)
clatfart idle chatter; nonsense (impress your friends, say “clatfart”)
codswallop something utterly senseless; nonsense (does this describe the last memo you read?)
flummery anything insipid; empty compliment; humbug (weasel words, anyone?)
gibberish nonsense talk (lots of this being spoken at the upcoming CES event in Las Vegas)
grimgribber learned gibberish; legal jargon (how bullshit reaches the next generation)
hogwash nonsense; worthless idea (simple but effective for criticism)
hooey nonsense; humbug (could be the title of my next book)
humbug nonsense (especially useful at Christmas)
jiggery-pokery deceptive or manipulative humbug (could you use this in a sentence? I have.)
malarkey humbug; nonsense (so many synonyms for made up crap)
mumbo-jumbo obscure nonsense (invented in Washington for meaningless and misguided legislation)
razzmatazz meaningless talk; hype; nonsense (more noise than meaning)
trumpery deception; trickery; showy nonsense (he said it, I didn’t)
Looking at The Phrontistery’s full list of over 60 terms, I’m struck by this:
- Bullshit has obviously been a problem for a while, given how many words people have coined over the years to describe it.
- Onomatopoeia informs this list. These words sound like bullshit.
- The barnyard and the fishing boat have left their marks (hogwash, codswallop). Clearly, farmers and fisherman know more about wasteful expression than most people.
- Chrisomalis left off my favorite and most useful description of meaningless verbiage: blather.
I resolve to use as many of these as possible in my descriptions of wasteful language in the new year. Will you join me?