Week of April 25, 2021

Calling You Out


A face unhidden by mask or beard has been called a “bareface” since the 16th century, and about two centuries later, this term was applied to “open, unconcealed” lies. Then about 75 years ago this morphed into “bald-faced lie,” and the late 20th century spawned the variant “bold-faced lie.”


“Bullshit” first appeared in a 1915 dictionary, but the term “bull” for deceptive, false, or fraudulent talk had been around since Middle English. In other words, “bull” is not a shortening, but the original form of the term.


Bologna is a northern Italian city where the spiced sausage made of mixed meats by the same name was born. However, “baloney,” in the current meaning and spelling started to be used in the US in the 1920s, though there are also references from that era of the word referring to boxers and wrestlers.


Before “balderdash” was a senseless jumble of words, it was an jumbled combination of alcoholic beverages, such as milk and wine or buttermilk and beer, etc.


Centuries before “bollocks” became the uniquely British equivalent of “bullshit,” the word meant “testicles.”


“Phony” seems to originate from an old scam where a man would unexpectedly “find” a “gold” ring on the street, act surprised, and “generously” sell it to a passerby at a great low price. In fact, the ring was brass and placed there by the con artist himself. “Fainne” is the Irish word for ring, which became “fawney” in English, as in “fawney man” or scam artist, then it morphed into “phony.”


The word “hoax” is a contraction of “hocus” which itself comes from “hocus pocus,” often heard during some kind of magic show or reference to illusion or deception.