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 United States, it 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.
- Counterfeit or fake; not genuine.
- Synonym: phony
- 1842, Daniel Parish Kidder, Mormonism and the Mormons: A Historical View of the Rise and Progress of the Sect Self-styled Latter-Day Saints, Carlton & Lanahan:
- […] that he and David Whitmer swore falsley, stole, cheated, lied, sold bogus money, (base coin,), and also stones and sand for bogus; that letters in the post-office had been opened, read, and destroyed; and that those same men were concerned with a gang of counterfeiters, coiners, and blacklegs.
- 1895, Alphonso Alva Hopkins, Wealth and Waste: The Principles of Political Economy in Their Application to the Present Problems of Labor, Law, and the Liquor Traffic, Funk & Wagnalls Company:
- They have printed bogus despatches, and unhesitatingly used what they knew was bogus matter in a way to mislead even newspaper men.
- 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.
- Undesirable or harmful.
- 1982, Fast Times at Ridgemont High:
- 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.
- (computing, slang) Incorrect, useless, or broken.
- (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).
- Synonym: illegal
- 1962, Douglas Patrick, The International Guide to Stamps and Stamp Collecting: Includes the Answers to 1200 Questions Most Often Asked about Stamps:
- Bogus stamps are labels made to deceive stamp collectors. Many bogus stamps were made prior to 1900 when some had names of imaginary countries.
- Based on false or misleading information or unjustified assumptions.
- bogus laws
- See also Thesaurus:fake
- (US, dialectal) A liquor made of rum and molasses.
- 1848, John Russell Bartlett, Dictionary of Americanisms: A glossary of words and phrases, usually regarded as peculiar to the United States:
- BOGUS. A liquor made of rum and molasses.
- 1919, Harvey Washington Wiley, Beverages and Their Adulteration: Origin, Composition, Manufacture, Natural, Artificial, Fermented, Distilled, Alkaloidal and Fruit Juices:
- "Calibogus," or "bogus" was cold rum and beer unsweetened.
- 2014, J. Anne Funderburg, Bootleggers and Beer Barons of the Prohibition Era, page 311:
- The American colonists drank rum straight, spiced, or mixed. They combined it with a list of ingredients: rum mixed with hard cider was called stonewall; rum and beer made bogus; rum and molasses made blackstrap.
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.
(See the entry for bogus in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)