Thursday 2 September 2010


Nobody knows where the word hornswoggle came from. It popped up mysteriously in America in 1829, came to England, and was still being used by The Sunday Times as recently as 1970.

Hornswoggle meant to embarrass, bamboozle or cheat. It survives today, if it can be said to survive at all, as the stage-name of a small professional wrestler, who also likes to be called Little Bastard.

I feel hornswoggle should be reclaimed by the non-wrestling community. Saying the word aloud is almost as delicious a sensual pleasure as wamblecropt.

Try it. Go on.



  1. Forgive me, O Dogberry, for my dreadful toadying (actually most people are very forgiving of that in my experience - at least when the toadying is directed toward themselves) but your posts are gems of wit, wisdom, wordology & whimsy.

    Hornswoggle! Music to my mouth! It's got the same kind of beauty as 'poppycock' & 'balderdash'.

    PS I think Yosemite Sam has helped mightily in keeping hornswoggle off the endangered list.

  2. I'm almost too horn-swoggled to say it.

  3. Do you think "hornswoggle" is part of the same familt as "discombobulated" - as in, one of those wonderfully strange American inventions of the nineteenth century?

    I have just worked out the connection to the picture...I am slow, it is only half seven and I am still waking up.

  4. I use hornswoggle all the time. As in, I've been hornswoggled into teaching extra classes this week...

  5. My dad always used it in place of "doggone or son-of-a-gun"" as in "well I'll be hornswoggled!"