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North American variants[edit]

Heading added. —Nils von Barth (nbarth) (talk) 05:07, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Evidently this has North American variants hogswallop, hog swallop, hog's wallop. Evertype 19:09, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

Further to this. I confirm that in my own dialect I have this word, which means the same thing as "codswallop". Google finds 614 examples of "hogswallop", 262 examples of "hog swallop", and 4 examples of hog's wallop—with quotation marks around each search. Evertype 19:29, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

Thanks! I’ve accordingly made an entry at hogswallop.

—Nils von Barth (nbarth) (talk) 05:07, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Long etymology[edit]

Moved from entry – this etymology is far too long and discursive, but may be of interest. I’ve written a briefer, more direct etymology on the main page, as of this revision. —Nils von Barth (nbarth) (talk) 05:07, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Supposedly from Hiram Codd, a British manufacturer of soft drinks, who patented several designs for mineral water bottles in the 1870s + wallop, a beer drinker’s pejorative reference to soft drink. There is an absence of evidence supporting this. The suggestion is further discredited by early spellings of the term. OED Online-BBC Balderdash and Piffle

There is another possible source for this phrase coming from a connection to cod fishing. The long history of Cod Fishing in the North Atlantic as well as the earlier references to the phrase lends credence to its having an etymology dating back before the 1870s. The term wallop can mean the eggs (roe) of the fish, which in the case of the Cod fish was considered useless garbage as compared to the value of such items as caviar. This explanation gives an even closer etymological definition for the current use of the term as meaning something that is of little or no value.

As a possible indication of similarity, it might be noted that the Danish word for 'guts' (though not colloquial) is 'indvold' as in that which is cleaned from a codfish and mostly thrown away. The pronunciation of 'w' and 'v' are often interchanged in Scandinavian dialects and languages, so there might be a connection between 'wallop' and 'indvold' or 'indwold'. The meaning noted above; 'eggs or roe', may be imprecise, as indvold refers to the intestines, stomach and virtually anything which is cleaned from the inside of the body cavity. Cod's roe is and has been for centuries a part of the diet of all peoples who consume codfish. It is much too valuable and nutritious to be considered useless garbage.

Evidently by folk-etymology referring to swill, this word has North American variants hogswallop, hog's wallop, and hog swallop. There would however, appear to be another explanation;

Cod, as is known from medieval texts, refers to the penis, as is cod piece, peascod (ref Shakespeare et al.) and wallop (see above). Combining the two would result in the reasonable conclusion that codswallop may have come from the combination of penis and rubbish, thus providing either the explanation that it is either semen or urine. The fact that it appears in no texts until the 50s or 60s has no relevance, as many slang (or colloquial) words rarely appear in literature or manuscript until long after first usage.


Some thoughts on the etymology, and suggestions on what to include and how to organize it.

The consensus is that this word has an unknown etymology, AFAICT, and there is a commonly cited folk etymology from Hiram Codd. Thus, I think it best to state:

  • It’s unknown
  • Here’s what we know – earliest use is 1959, as far as we can tell
  • Plausible etymologies – various forms of cod
  • There’s a folk etymology – mention b/c commonly cited, but mention last because widely discredited.

Personally, I find the suggestion by Gary Martin (The Phrase Finder’s) that it comes from cod (imitation) compelling, since cod is used attributively in this sense – “cod Latin”, etc. – and “imitation beer” seems a plausible construction. The slang terms also seem to be from the right period; the -s- is presumably for ease of pronunciation, as *codwallop is awkward due to -dw-.

That said, suggestions that it comes from cod (scrotum) seem to be commonly mentioned, so I’ve listed that first. It could also conceivably be from some fish sense, as mentioned above, so I’ve mentioned that, but the above long Scandinavian discussions seem a stretch, so I’ve limited them to this talk page. If someone can find a reference for such a derivation, please feel free to add (with reference) to main entry page.

The folk etymology discussion makes the etymology section a bit long, but it seems necessary, as most discussion of this word is around this folk etymology.

Other than more citations, and perhaps usage notes (is this considered vulgar, or just slang?), I think the page is in good shape and pretty complete – please feel free to improve!

—Nils von Barth (nbarth) (talk) 05:18, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

An additional possibility: cod was once conserved salted - as it is still done in Mediterranean Europe. In order to be eaten, it had to be put into abundant water for a full day. The resulting salted water was a useless beverage - the swallop. In Portuguese this used water is called 'Aguas de bacalhau' (cod's waters) and has a very close meaning to codswallop.

Any evidence that "swallop" is a word on its own? Equinox 20:48, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

In re Equinox, I have heard 'swallop' on its own as a variant of 'wallop,' culturally obsolete: 'Swallop:' a decisive and usually disciplinary strike, usually delivered to a noisy or misbehaving child or pet after lesser physical guidance has failed to gather appropriate deference and attention. Often preceded by 'good' meaning effective, in the same context of 'a good beating,' or 'good spanking.' Ex: "Permissive parents and their 'timeouts' just don't work; in my day that mom would have taken the kid out of the restaurant and out back for a good swallop."

Earlier uses[edit]

1959 seems rather later.

A quick search shows a July 7, 1958 use, on page 4 of the Alton Evening Telegraph (Illinois), in a joke, that presumably has come on the wire from the UK somehow (sadly the 1937 hit was "Cubs Wallop Dodgers 6-4 ..." ). Must be something earlier ... Nfitz (talk) 20:11, 15 January 2018 (UTC)