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Unknown, possibly from the early English drink of wine mixed with beer or water or other substances that was sold cheaply.[1]


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈbɔːldə.dæʃ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æʃ


balderdash (uncountable)

  1. Senseless talk or writing; nonsense.
    • 1765, Henry Brooke, The Fool of Quality, London, for the author, Volume I, “TO THE RIGHT RESPECTABLE MY Ancient and well-beloved PATRON THE PUBLIC,” p. xix,[1]
      Where, you cried in the name of Wonder, have you been able to gather together such an old fashioned Bundlement of Scientific Balderdash?
    • 1844, Edgar Allan Poe, “The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq.” in Southern Literary Messenger, Volume 10, December 1844, p. 720,[2]
      [He] has the audacity to demand of us, for this twattle, a ‘speedy insertion and prompt pay.’ We neither insert nor purchase any stuff of the sort. There can be no doubt, however, that he would meet with a ready sale for all the balderdash he can scribble, at the office of either the ‘Rowdy-Dow,’ the ‘Lollipop,’ or the ‘Goosetherumfoodle.’
    • 1904, Joseph Conrad, Nostromo, Chapter 7,[3]
      Charles Gould assumed that if the appearance of listening to deplorable balderdash must form part of the price he had to pay for being left unmolested, the obligation of uttering balderdash personally was by no means included in the bargain.
    • 1992 April 26, "Hot Off the Press" Jeeves and Wooster, Series 3, Episode 5:
      A. Fink-Nottle: But it's absolute balderdash, Bertie. I mean, listen to this: "Sure and begorrah, I don't know what's after being the matter with you, Michael." I mean, what on earth is this "what's after being" stuff mean?
      B.W. Wooster: My dear old Gussie, that is how people think Irish people talk.
  2. (archaic) A worthless mixture, especially of liquors.
    • 1599, [Thomas] Nashe, Nashes Lenten Stuffe, [], London: [] [Thomas Judson and Valentine Simmes] for N[icholas] L[ing] and C[uthbert] B[urby] [], OCLC 228714942, pages 7–8:
      [T]hey would no more liue vnder the yoke of the Sea, or haue their heads waſht with his bubbly ſpume or Barbers balderdaſh, [...]
    • 1637, John Taylor, Drinke and Welcome, London: Anne Griffin, “Beere,”[4]
      Indeede Beere, by a Mixture of Wine, it enjoyes approbation amongst some few (that hardly understand wherefore) but then it is no longer Beere, but hath lost both Name and Nature, and is called Balderdash (an Utopian denomination) [...]
    • 1783, John O’Keeffe, The Agreeable Surprise, Newry: R. Stevenson, Act I, Scene 1, pp. 6-7,[5]
      [...] I took him to oblige a foolish old friend of mine, who intended him for Saint Omers; so I must keep him to draw good wine, and brew balderdash Latin.
  3. (obsolete) Obscene language or writing.
    • 1776, Samuel Jackson Pratt, Liberal Opinions, upon Animals, Man, and Providence, London: G. Robinson & J. Bew, Volume 4, Chapter 72, p. 46,[6]
      Trugge, therefore, (who has a foul mouth of his own, when he pleases) talked balderdash to Mrs. Sudberry, through the key-hole, which she did not answer, for, indeed, she seems a civil spoken woman, truly [...]
    • 1795, Richard Cumberland, Henry, London: Charles Dilly, Volume I, Book 1, Chapter 6, p. 42,[7]
      With me your work will be easy and your life happy, with him you will be a drudge and the lacquey of a drudge [...]: from me you will hear none but pious and edifying conversation; from them nothing but balderdash and blasphemy in an outlandish dialect [...]




balderdash (third-person singular simple present balderdashes, present participle balderdashing, simple past and past participle balderdashed)

  1. (archaic) To mix or adulterate.
    • 1766, Tobias Smollett, Travels through France and Italy, London: R. Baldwin, 2nd edition, Volume I, Letter 19, p. 309,[8]
      That which is made by the peasants, both red and white, is generally genuine: but the wine-merchants of Nice brew and balderdash, and even mix it with pigeons dung and quick-lime.


  1. ^ The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language by Mark Forsyth