[Ads-l] Further Antedating of "Boondoggle"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jan 23 23:36:24 UTC 2016

On Sat, Jan 23, 2016 at 4:33 PM, Fred Shapiro wrote:
> boondoggle (OED 1935)
> 1927 _Democrat and Chronicle_ (Rochester, N.Y.) 23 July 26/2
> (Newspapers.com)  They had been tricked in a way that left nothing
> more to be desired.  Boondoggle.  This was terrible.
> 1927 _Democrat and Chronicle_ (Rochester, N.Y.) 4 Dec. 63/7
> (Newspapers.com)  Scouts of Roosevelt Troop Plan Contest ... The
> second edition of the "Boondoggle" is out and has aroused no little
> interest among the members of the troop.  George Alexander is
> editing the paper this year and has been doing a fine job of it.

Assuming they're correctly dated, these are wonderful finds,
antedating various reports from Aug. 1929, when Rochester scouts
brought their "boondoggles" to the World Scouting Jamboree in England.
Cites from 1927 would still support the claim of the Rochester
scoutmaster Robert H. Link that he coined "boondoggle" upon the birth
of his son, Robert H., Jr., in 1925. (When the New York Herald Tribune
first reported Link's claim in a front-page article on 4/8/35, they
said his son was born in 1926, but other sources pinpoint his
birthdate to 7/8/25.)

See my Word Routes column (following up on my Lexicon Valley podcast
appearance) here:


The context of the 7/23/27 cite is a bit unclear -- is "boondoggle"
being used as a minced oath of some sort? But the 12/4/27 cite
intriguingly suggests that the Rochester scouts were publishing a
newspaper called "Boondoggle." I wonder if copies of it still exist? I
didn't come across any mention of the newspaper in my "boondoggle"


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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