1 pretentious or silly talk or writing [syn: baloney, boloney, bilgewater, bosh, drool, taradiddle, tarradiddle, tommyrot, tosh, twaddle]
2 communication (writen or spoken) intended to deceive [syn: snake oil]
3 something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage [syn: fraud, fraudulence, dupery, hoax, put-on] v : trick or deceive [also: humbugging, humbugged]
- 1843, Charles
Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas,
- ‘A Merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!’ cried a cheerful
voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew, who came upon him so
quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.
- ‘Bah!’ said Scrooge, ‘Humbug!’
- ‘A Merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!’ cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.
- 1843, Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, stave 1,
- The spellings humbuging and humbuged exist, but are not nearly so common as humbugging and humbugged.
- OED 2nd edition 1989
Humbug is an archaic term meaning "hoax", or "jest". While the term was first attested in 1751 in student slang, its etymology is unknown. It is known, however, that it was used as profanity centuries ago, in places such as Great Britain. Its present meaning as an exclamation is closer to "nonsense", or "gibberish", while as a noun, a humbug refers to a fraud or impostor, implying an element of unjustified publicity and spectacle.
In modern usage, the word is probably most associated with Ebenezer Scrooge, a character created by Charles Dickens. His famous reference to Christmas, "Bah! Humbug!", declaring Christmas to be a fraud, is heard afresh every year around Christmas time when the perennial favorite, A Christmas Carol, is played on stage or TV.
thumb|right|px330| Famous [[Humbug of the actress/singer/manager Jenny Lind outside P. T. Barnum's New American Museum, New York City, 1850.]]P. T. Barnum was a master of humbug, creating public sensations and fascination with his masterful sense of publicity. Many of his promoted exhibitions were obvious fakes, but the paying public enjoyed viewing them, either to scoff or for the wonder of them. If the word humbug enjoyed contemporary usage, it would likely be applied to supermarket tabloids and the publicity industry. A famous humbug took place on the arrival of the actress/theatre manager Jenny Lind to America, just outside the showplace of P. T. Barnum, the New American Museum, in 1850 (etching, right).
In several East-Indian dialects, the word is borrowed from English, and used to mean "to deceive" or "to cheat". In Australian Aboriginal English, humbug means "to pester or annoy."
"''The witch, in gypsy as in other lore, is a haunting terror of the night. It has not, that I am aware, ever been conjectured that the word Humbug is derived from the Norse hum, meaning night, or shadows (tenebræ) (JONÆO, "Icelandic Latin glossary in Niall's Saga"), and bog, or bogey, termed in several old editions of the Bible a bug, or "bugges." And as bogey came to mean a mere scarecrow, so the hum-bugges or nightly terrors became synonymes for feigned frights. "A humbug, a false alarm, a bug-bear" ("Dean Milles MS." HALLIWELL). The fact that bug is specialty applied to a nocturnal apparition, renders the reason for the addition of hum very evident." - Charles Godfrey Leland, Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune Telling , Chapter X http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/gsft/gsft12.htm
- Both meanings of the term were used for comic effect in Blackadder's Christmas Carol''. Ebenezer Blackadder's first line is "Humbug, humbug!", which is heard by Mr Baldrick in the streets, making it seem as if he is in a foul mood. However, Blackadder enters his shop with a bag of sweets, saying kindly "Humbug, Mr. Baldrick?".
- Near the end of The Wizard of Oz (1939 film), when the Wizard is exposed as a fraud, the angry scarecrow denounces him, "You humbug!" The wizard meekly acknowledges, "You're right, I am a humbug." The wizard's Kansas alter ego, Professor Marvel, was also a humbug.
- Shreveport, Louisiana is home to the 2-108th Cavalry Squadron, the reconnaissances element of the 256th Infantry Brigade. Three of the squadron's four Cavalry Troops are located at 400 East Stoner Ave. in a historic armory known as "Fort Humbug" due to the Confederate Army burning logs to look like cannons and placing them along the Red River. This caused Union iron clad ships sailing north on the Red River to be tricked into turning back South.
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