Word Nerd: 8 words for boring nonsense that just won’t stop

20 Mar

Every party has a crashing bore who will corner you and launch into a labyrinthine story. Every seminar has that one gasbag in the audience who will share a personal opinion disguised as a never-ending question. Every family gathering has that dreaded relative with a chronic case of verbal diarrhea. Verbosity is a common hazard, and it is impossible to completely avoid it. Somewhat ironically, the English language has a hoard of synonyms for it. Here are a few of the less commonly used ones.

1. Argle-bargle

Similar to argy-bargy, argie-bargie, argey-bargey, and argue-bargue. The dictionary defines this as a disputatious argument or a bandying of words. It’s common to see people engaging in argle-bargle in any Indian market.

2. Balderdash

This is the term for a senseless jumble of words, nonsense, or trash, whether written or spoken. Oddly, in the past it also meant a jumbled mixture of liquors, such as of milk and beer, or beer and wine. That usage is now obsolete, but some people still talk like they’ve been drinking balderdash.

3. Blether

Sometimes spelled ‘blather’. The dictionary defines this as voluble talk that makes no sense. In his poem “The Vision”, written in 1786, the Scottish poet Robert Burns remarked that he had wasted his “youthful prime” doing nothing but “stringing blethers up in rhyme for fools to sing”.

4. Drivel

This refers to idiotic utterances or silly nonsense. Interestingly, it once referred also to drooling, or – to use the Oxford English Dictionary’s more clinical description – “spittle flowing from the mouth”.

5. Gibberish

This refers to unintelligible speech that belongs to no known language. It is sometimes applied to ungrammatical language and pretentious verbiage. The verb form refers to someone speaking rapidly and nonsensically. It can also refer to the chattering of an ape.

6. Gobbledygook

This usually refers to jargon – the unofficial language of many professionals, bureaucrats, and pretentious people. In one of the dialects, known as Legalese, sentences often begin with “whereas” and go on for several pages. Gobbledygook is known to be an effective cure for insomnia. Here’s a resource to create unlimited gobbledygook.

7. Hooey

This is American slang for nonsense. The British English equivalent is ‘bunk’. Politicians and TV pundits are often abundant sources of of hooey.

8. Rigmarole

The dictionary defines this as “a succession of incoherent statements; an unconnected or rambling discourse; a long-winded harangue of little meaning or importance”. In other words, it’s part of everyday life.

Someone’s blah-blahs giving you the blues? Cheer yourself up by reading more Word Nerd posts!

By: Uma Asher

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