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Alternative forms[edit]


Metaphorical use of a burger missing a patty (compare Where's the beef?), coined by Hollywood movie columnist Louella Parsons and first used in her daily gossip column "Louella's Move-Go-'Round" of June 1, 1953.


nothingburger (plural nothingburgers)

  1. (informal) A person who is a nonentity.
    • 1953 June 1, Louella O. Parsons, “Louella's Move-Go-'Round: Goldwyn Throws In Sponge, Gives Farley Granger U-Month Release”, in Albuquerque Journal, page 5, column 1:
      After all, if it hadn’t been for Sam Goldwyn Farley might very well be a nothingburger.
    • 2014, Fannie Flagg, The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion, →ISBN, page 278:
      I've had two fantastic mothers—one a hero who flew planes—and I turned out to be just a big nothingburger with no courage at all.
  2. (informal) Something of less importance than its treatment suggests.
    • 1984, Congressional Record, US Congress, page 21664:
      She calls NACOA a "joke" and a "nothingburger" ...
    • 1993, Appalachian Journal[1], volume 21, page 104:
      Browner admitted that the new policies would have no impact ... Kaufman ... called Browner's announcement "a nothingburger."
    • 2005 October 17, Don Tennant, “Just Wondering”, in Computerworld[2], page 26:
      ... the announcement was "a model for how well-known companies can make a major media event out of a nothingburger."
    • 2017 March 15, Cillizza, Chris, “This 2005 Donald Trump tax return is a total nothingburger”, in The Washington Post[3] (heading), retrieved 15 March 2017:
      This 2005 Donald Trump tax return is a total nothingburger
    • 2017 June 28, Newsweek[4], Newsweek:
      The two shake hands and Jones is asked: "What do you think is going to happen this week with the whole Russia thing?" Jones responds: "The Russia thing is just a big nothing burger."
  3. (informal) A person or object that is bland or unremarkable in appearance or impact.
    • 1991, Helen Gurley Brown, Cosmopolitan[5], volume 210:
      Except for Easter, isn't March kind of a nothingburger (unless your birthday is in it!) month?
    • 2007, Lucinda Rosenfeld, What She Saw..., Knopf Doubleday, page 60:
      That's how ugly she was—ugly by virtue of the fact that she was unmemorable, a slab of alabaster awaiting a sculptor who never arrived, a "nothing burger" if ever there was one.

Derived terms[edit]


nothingburger (not comparable)

  1. (informal) bland or unremarkable in appearance
    • 1970, Helen Gurley Brown, Sex and the New Single Girl, B. Geis Associates, page 186:
      Well, I think better a splendid fake than those little-bitty, itsy-poo nothing burger gold dinkies you wear only because they're real.
    • 1981, American Photographer, volume 27, CBS Publications:
      There are some good pictures here but the Brand-X reproduction and nothingburger design reduces the overall look to a clutter...
    • 1984, Car & Driver, volume 30:
      For years you have touted anemic nothing-burger cars because they "cornered" and "handled".
    • 1994, Helen Gurley Brown, The Late Show: A Practical, Semiwild Survival Guide for Every Woman in Her Prime Or Approaching It, Avon, page 285:
      I just know about small busy squares or rectangles with computers, word processors, files and telephones, gray, beige or brown really nothingburger desks.
  2. (informal) disreputable, as of a person
    • 2013, Steve Ulfelder, Shotgun Lullaby, Macmillan, page 118:
      You can help me figure out why a pro like you, who looks to've spent time in some serious places, is babysitting Charlie Pundo's nothingburger baby-raping turd of a son.

See also[edit]