bogus

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

First attested from 1797, as underworld term for counterfeit coins. Meaning of the machine (known as a bogus press) was first attested 1828. Sense of phony paper money as well as a general adjective applied to anything, being less valuable than it first appeared was first attested 1848. Later, the word was applied to anything of poor quality. The current use to mean useless is probably from the slang of computer hackers.

The origin is unknown, but there are at least two theories that try to trace its origin:

  • From Hausa boko, to fake. Since bogus first appeared in the USA, this may be possible that its ancestor was brought there on a slave ship.
  • From criminal slang as a short form of tantrabogus, a 19th century slang term for a menacing object, making some believe that bogus might be linked to bogy or bogey (see bogeyman). In this sense, Bogus might be related to Bogle – a traditional trickster from the Scottish Borders, noted for achieving acts of household trickery; confusing, but not usually damaging.

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

bogus (comparative more bogus, superlative most bogus)

  1. Counterfeit or fake; not genuine.
    bogus crimes
    • 1921, Burton J. Hendrick, The Age of Big Business:
      The organization of “bogus companies,” started purely for the purpose of eliminating competitors, seems to have been a not infrequent practice.
  2. Undesirable or harmful.
    • “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, 1982
      So what Jefferson was saying was "Hey! You know, we left this England place because it was bogus. So if we don't get some cool rules ourselves, pronto, we'll just be bogus too."
  3. Incorrect, useless, or broken.
  4. (philately) Of a totally fictitious issue printed for collectors, often issued on behalf of a non-existent territory or country (not to be confused with forgery, which is an illegitimate copy of a genuine stamp).
  5. Based on false or misleading information or unjustified assumptions.
    bogus laws

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

bogus (uncountable)

  1. (US, dialect) A liquor made of rum and molasses.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Bartlett to this entry?)

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.