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Alternative forms[edit]


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.[1][2] A national TV appeal in the UK in 2006 failed to find earlier references,[1] though a humorous newspaper column from 1947 does use the fictional name "Sir Aubrey Codswallop".[3] Originally written (1963) codswallop, spelling cod's wallop is later.

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,[1] 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.



codswallop (uncountable)

  1. (UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, 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?”, in 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[2], 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.”



  1. (UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, slang) Used to express disbelief: nonsense!; rubbish!
    Synonym: hogswallop



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Gary Martin (1997–) “A load of codswallop”, in The Phrase Finder, retrieved 26 February 2017.
  2. ^ “codswallop”, in OED Online[1], 2006 January, archived from the original on 2009–03–09
  3. ^ "Dee" (1947 July 22) “The Man Himself”, in Reveille, London, page 5:What sort of a man is Sir Aubrey Codswallop, the big noise behind the new Utility Mousetrap (Control of Cheese) Order?

Further reading[edit]