Coiner of "gobbledygook"?

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sat Sep 15 23:52:53 UTC 2007

HDAS (at "gobble") makes the likely etymology of "gobbledygook" almost too explicit.  But Maverick was undoubtedly unaware of it - otherwise, he'd never knowingly have publicized the word.  Cf. the syn. "gobblydegoo," also in HDAS.

  Barry's site reports Maverick's service in WW I.  Cf. the first "ca1962" ex. in HDAS, in which a correspondent informed William and Mary Morris quite circumstantially that he first heard "gobbledygook" (in the sense of "rubbishy nonsense") in an Alabama army camp in 1917. The second "ca1962" also attests to the word's existence "long before 1944."

  As HDAS notes, Maverick "introduced" the word. He did not claim to have invented it. To judge from his remarks, quoted by Barry, he honestly did not remember where or when he'd heard it, which suggests that it had been many years earlier.

  Besides the variant "gobbledygoo" (used most notably by Sylvia Plath in her often anthologized poem "Daddy"), I have encountered "gobbly-," "garbly-," "gobblety-"/ "-goo,"
  "-gook," and (in some cases) "-goop" from students and from the Internet - but not, AFAICR, from edited print.


"Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Joel S. Berson"
Subject: Re: Coiner of "gobbledygook"?

At 9/15/2007 03:02 PM, Fred.Shapiro wrote:
>Where did the Clare Boothe Luce theory come from? This coinage has
>always been associated with Maverick. Note that I have previously
>posted a slight antedating, from March 1944, which attributes it to Maverick.

In a message from a correspondent; I am waiting for his documentation.


>Fred Shapiro
>From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
>Joel S. Berson [Berson at ATT.NET]
>Sent: Saturday, September 15, 2007 2:35 PM
>Subject: Coiner of "gobbledygook"?
>Did Clare Boothe Luce coin "gobbledygook", or, as the OED2's earliest
>citations suggest, did Maury Maverick?
>1944 Amer. N. & Q. Apr. 9/1 Gobbledygook talk: Maury Maverick's name
>for the long high-sounding words of Washington's red-tape
>language. 1944 M. Maverick in N.Y. Times Mag. 21 May 11/1 Just
>before Pearl Harbor, I+got my baptism under 'gobbledygook'+its
>definition: talk or writing which is long, pompous, vague, involved,
>usually with Latinized words. It is also talk or writing which is merely long.
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