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See also: Malarkey



Origin unknown; perhaps from Greek μαλακός (malakós, soft; compliant, meek; gentle, mellow, mild, mild-mannered) or μαλακία (malakía, masturbation; (figuratively) idiocy, stupidity; bullshit, nonsense). The word was popularized by the Irish-American cartoonist Thomas Aloysius (“Tad”) Dorgan (1877–1929), who started using it in cartoons on March 9, 1922.[1][2]



malarkey (plural (rare) malarkeys)

  1. (originally US, informal) Nonsense; rubbish. [from 1920s]
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:nonsense
    I decided it was a bunch of malarkey and stopped reading about halfway through.
    • 1934 April 2, Thomas Aloysius Dorgan, The Capital Times, Madison, Wis.: Capital Times Co., ISSN 0749-4068, OCLC 7351334, page 6:
      Malachy—You said it—I wouldn't trust a lawyer no further than I could throw a case of Scotch.
    • 1939, The Commentator, volume 6, New York, N.Y.: Payson Publishing Co., OCLC 4278333, page 45, column 2:
      It's a lot of mallarky for mothers, sisters, and sweethearts to ask "Laddie, when you're far away will you think of me?" The answer is NO! The girls who teach the soldier boys are kept busy as a bee. It's the soldier boys who pay.
    • 1945, Lawrence Lariar; Erle Stanley Gardner; Marjorie Alan, The Girl with the Frightened Eyes [by Lawrence Lariar]; The Case of the Half-wakened Wife [by Erle Stanley Gardner]; Dark Prophecy [by Marjorie Alan], New York, N.Y.: Detective Book Club, OCLC 6186260, page 127:
      She shrugged. "I've told you all I know." / "Mallarky. You haven't even begun to spill and you know it."
    • 1957 July, Merrick Pratt, “Administering the Protective Equipment Program”, in Gerard J. Riley, editor, Modern Sanitation: The Magazine of Sanitation Management and Plant Housekeeping, volume 9, number 1, Easton, Pa.: Powell Magazines, OCLC 977829725, page 21:
      If I told you that we had launched the glove washing program without effort it would be purely malarkey. Right off the bat we had some squawks about dermatitis.
    • 1968, Margery Allingham, “The String Man”, in Cargo of Eagles, London: Chatto & Windus, OCLC 459739; republished London: Vintage, 2016, →ISBN, page 91:
      'Smuggling,' she said. 'has a fine romantic ring about it—once aboard the lugger, you heave ho and all that kind of malarky. [...]'
    • 1957 October 19, Robert Ormond Case, “Trouble at Midas Creek”, in Ben Hibbs, editor, The Saturday Evening Post, volume 230, number 16, Philadelphia, Pa.; London: Curtis Publishing Company, ISSN 0048-9239, OCLC 613316682, page 64, column 1:
      Save that malarkey for those old fossils at Midas Creek! You're aiming at the pot. So am I. I'm in control, but you and your infernal luck could upset the applecart.
    • 1983, Donald E[dwin] Westlake, chapter 23, in Why Me?, New York, N.Y.: Viking, →ISBN; republished [New York, N.Y.]: Road, 2011, →ISBN:
      But, Tony, this has got to stay within the Department. None of our FBIers or state troopers or all them other malarkeys get to hear a word of it.
    • 1983 August, Alan Moore; David Lloyd, illustrator, “V for Vendetta: This Vicious Cabaret”, in Dez Skinn, editor, Warrior, number 12, London: Quality Communications, OCLC 9181490, pages 92–93; quoted in Lance Parkin, Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore, London: Aurum Press, 2013, →ISBN, page 196:
      There's mischiefs and malarkies / But no queers, or yids, or darkies. / Within this bastard's carnival, / This vicious cabaret!
    • 1985, Stephen Lowe, “Moving Pictures”, in Moving Pictures: Four Plays (Methuen New Theatrescript), London; New York, N.Y.: Methuen, →ISBN, page 7:
      But I'm not havin' this film mallarky. I'm takin' no memories wi' me.
    • 1993, Richard Barry, “Budgeting”, in The Management of International Oil Operations, Tulsa, Ok.: PennWell Books, →ISBN, page 331:
      A company that makes a fetish of never exceeding the budget invites game-playing and other malarky. It is easy to forget the obvious: that it involves no skill to come in on time and under budget if the schedule and budget are generous enough.
    • 1998, Nick Hornby, chapter 13, in About a Boy, London: Gollancz, →ISBN; republished as chapter 13, in About a Boy, New York, N.Y.: Riverhead Books, 1998, →ISBN:
      "No. She was going through a Kramer vs. Kramer kind of thing at the time. You know, a sort of I-want-to-find-out-who-I-am malarkey." / "And did she find out who she was?" / "Not really. I don't know if anyone really does, do they?"
    • 2001 January, Jules Verne, chapter 5, in Frederick Paul Walter, transl., 20,000 Leagues under the Seas: An Underwater Tour of the World (Project Gutenberg eBook; #2488), Project Gutenberg, OCLC 914175360, part 2:
      "An underwater tunnel!" he exclaimed. "A connection between two seas! Who ever heard of such malarkey!"
    • 2004, Johnny Rich, “The Application Process”, in Ruth Bushi, editor, The Push Guide to Choosing a University, 2nd edition, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire: Nelson Thornes, →ISBN, page 68:
      This book isn't about the application process itself – how best to complete your UCAS form, what the codes are for exam awarding bodies, what to say in interviews and all that mullarkey.
    • 2015, Liz Talley, Sweet Talking Man (Harlequin Superromance), Don Mills, Ont.: Harlequin Enterprises, →ISBN, page 337:
      That's a bunch of malarkey piled on malarkey. I knew the minute I saw you there was something special about you, [...]

Alternative forms[edit]



  1. ^ malarkey, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2000.
  2. ^ Mark Memmot (12 October 2012), “What’s All this Malarkey about Malarkey?”, in NPR[1], archived from the original on 6 June 2019.

Further reading[edit]