boondoggle (1929)

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Sat Sep 1 11:48:35 UTC 2007

Webster's New Explorer Dictionary of Word Origins (ISBN: 1892859661
Pub. Date: June 2004) pages 58-59 (via live search) traces "boondoggle back to
Scouting [magazine], then, vaguely, to "Punch from the fall of 1929."

In case it's of interest, here's the Punch August 14, 1929 p. 192 item:


THE CHIEF SCOUT has recently been presented by the University of
Liverpool with a Degree, and by the scouts of America with a boondoggle.  Of the
two, I think I should prefer the boondoggle. Great as is the honour conferred by
the Seat of Learning, there is a homely flavour about the other gift which
touches theheart even more.

"Boondoggle." It is a word to conjure with, to roll around the tongue; an
expressive word to set the fancy moving in strange and comforting channels; and
it rhymes with "goggle," "boggle," and "woggle." three of the most lighthearted
words in the English language.

It sounds like the crooning of a mother to her child; like the bubbling of a
brook to a thirsty traveller; above all, it sounds like forty-two nations
extracting fifty thousand brace of cheerful feet from the particular brand of
mud enjoyed at Arrow Park.

When you ask the American Scouts about the boondoggle they slowly move theirgum
from one cheek to the other before they answer. And it is like that too.

Stephen Goranson

The American Dialect Society -

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