Unknown, attested from 1959 episode of UK TV series Hancock's Half Hour. The writers (Galton and Simpson) state that the phrase was in general use when the show was broadcast. A national TV appeal in the UK in 2006 failed to find earlier references. Originally written (1963) codswallop, spelling cod's wallop is later. Google Ngram Viewer, however, shows a blip of use in the years before 1900.
Various etymologies are proposed from some sense of cod, such as from cod (“joke, imitation”) + -s- + wallop (“beer (slang)”), hence cod + wallop “imitation beer” (with interconsonantal -s- to ease pronunciation of -dw-), or from cod (“scrotum, as in codpiece”) + -s- + wallop (“to hit”), hence cod + wallop “testicle bag” or "tbag" or "hit with testicle bag," or from cod (“fish”) (some part of the fish, as from fishing industry).
A frequently given etymology, although widely rejected as a folk etymology, derives it from Hiram Codd, British soft drink maker of the 1870s, known for the eponymous Codd-neck bottle, with the suggestion that codswallop is a derisive term for soft drinks by beer drinkers, from Codd’s + wallop (“beer (slang)”) “Codd’s beer (sarcastic)”. There is no evidence that early uses had this sense, the slang wallop (“beer”) comes later than Codd’s lifetime, initial spellings (1963 in print) do not reflect such a derivation (*Codd’s wallop and *coddswallop with -dd- are not found), and there is an 80-year gap between proposed coinage and attestation.
This is also the name given to the wooden device placed over the neck of a codd bottle and given a push (wallop) to dislodge the marble in the neck of the bottle. The word has also been used to describe the process of opening a codd bottle.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˌkɒdzˈwɒl.əp/
Audio (AU) (file)
- Rhymes: -ɒləp
- Hyphenation: cods‧wal‧lop
- (Britain, slang) Senseless talk or writing; nonsense; rubbish.
- Synonyms: see Thesaurus:nonsense
- 1959 Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, Hancock’s Half Hour,
- Tony: I was not.
- Sidney: Don’t give me that old codswallop. You were counting your money.
- 1963 October 17, Radio Times, 52/2,
- Just branding a programme as ‘rubbish’, ‘tripe’, or—there are a lot of these—‘codswallop’, gives little indication of what moved the viewer to write.
- 1981 October 1, John Turner, Review: Autumn Books: Prometheus bounded?, New Scientist, page 41,
- An interviewer from a Warsaw radio station stopped a citizen in the street. Was the recent demonstration necessary? “History will tell.” But what did he think? “I am not a historian.” Likewise Lumsden′s and Wilson′s book. If it is not a load of codswallop, it will turn out to be very important. If it is not a load of codswallop. Faites vos jeux!
- 1993, J. Neville Turner, The One-Day Game – Cricket or Codswallop?, in 2001, David John Headon, The Best Ever Australian Sports Writing: A 200 Year Collection.
- 2010, Grahame Howard, The Wishing Book 3 – Extermination, page 66:
- “I′ve told you all I know,” Rosa Armaz told Boarski and Yermin, “I don′t know what my husband has been doing. He′d mentioned going to Mars with the children but I thought it was a load of codswallop.”
- “Codswallop” in Michael Quinion, World Wide Words, 1996–.
- “codswallop” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020.