Slight antedating of "bafflegab"?

Michael Quinion wordseditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Sat Sep 15 20:23:44 UTC 2007

Joel S. Berson wrote:

> From another list [source of the text below unfortunately lost].  This
> might antedate OE2 by 4 days.

That was from a piece I wrote a couple of years ago, which is online at

This is the full citation (submitted to OED Incomings at the time), which
is an expanded version of the one Grant Barrett mentioned:

1952 Walla Walla Union Bulletin (Walla Walla, Washington) 19 Jan. 2/4 The
Office of Price Stabilization was Smith's target when he coined
`bafflegab´ in writing about an OPS order. He did so in the chamber's
weekly publication, Washington Report. The Bellingham Herald noted it-and
wrote an editorial saying: `Gobbledegook is mouth-filling, but it lacks
the punch of bafflegab. The inventor of that one deserves an award.´ The
paper promptly donated a plaque. DiSalle said Smith could have the plaque
only if he defined his new word. Smith had a written definition ready
saying `bafflegab´ is `multiloquence characterized by consummate
interfusion of circumlocution or periphrasis, inscrutability, and other
familiar manifestations of abstruse expatiation commonly utilized for
promulgations implementing Procrustean determinations by governmental
bodies´. [From]

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: wordseditor at

The American Dialect Society -

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