Boggled by bogus bogies
One would think that boggle, bogus, & bogey would all be closely related. They may be. Or not. It seems the queens & kings of etymology can’t always dig up enough dirt to prove anything, so instead, we have speculation, but fascinating speculation it is. Here are some bits & pieces of it:
Bogey, bogie or bogy, may be derived from bug, meaning scarecrow, bugbear or terror, OR bogy meaning the devil, OR from bogle, meaning goblin
Over the years, this derogatory term has been used to mean:
-one who spoils the game or interferes with the pitch
-a tax collector
-a dissatisfied customer
-a lump of mucus or slime
(& there’s a verb to go bogy, which means to become prophetic or develop a second sight)
Bogus may have originated as a term for a machine which printed counterfeit money, OR may have come from tantrabogus, a term used in Vermont to refer to ill-looking objects, OR from near Devonshire, where bogus was used to refer to the devil.
Over the years, bogus has been used to mean:
-something unpleasant, dull, or silly
Boggle is somewhat straightforward in its etymology. Most agree boggle came from the French word bogle, a spectre.
Over the years the verb boggle has meant:
-to start with fright
-to take alarm
-to shy, as a startled horse
-to play fast or loose
-to make a mess of
The noun form of boggle has meant:
-an enjoyable word game from Milton Bradley
It’s all pretty boggling. Any thoughts on all this, stalwart followers?
My thanks go out to this week’s sources, Etymonline.com Partridge’s Concise Dictionary of Slang & Unconventional English, Hugh Rawson’s Devious Derivations, & the OED.
I write for teens, narrate audio books, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.
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