Gobbledygook… what a weird word !!!

May 28, 2006 at 6:53 pm (General)


Unintelligible language, especially jargon or bureaucratese.

This is a truly maverick word, not only because it is surprisingly modern and also one whose genesis we can pin down to the day, but also because a maverick coined it —Maury Maverick, a Texan lawyer who was at various times a Democratic Congressman and mayor of San Antonio.

He used the word in the New York Times Magazine on 21 May 1944, while he was chairman of the US Smaller War Plants Committee in Congress, as part of a complaint against the obscure language used by his colleagues. His inspiration, he said, was the turkey, “always gobbledy gobbling and strutting with ludicrous pomposity”. The word met a clear need and quickly became part of the language. It is sometimes abbreviated slightly to gobbledygoo.

Word coining runs in the Maverick family, since Maury Maverick’s grandfather, Samuel Maverick, a Texas rancher, was the inspiration for maverick, originally an animal not branded to identify its owner (because Sam Maverick didn’t brand his own herds), later an unconventional person, and later still a politician who stands aside from the herd, refusing to conform to the party line.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2006. All rights reserved. 

I found this "googleing" for the word in the net browser, I thought it might be interesting to read….

Here's the link to the site where I got it from: http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-gob1.htm , I think it's worth checking out…

And here's a bit of Biography of the author:


After Cambridge University, where he studied physical sciences, he joined BBC radio as a studio manager. “The job was a fascinating blend of the techie and the creative artist,” he says. “Though much of the time you were dogsbody, equipment operator and referee rolled into one”. After that, he helped to start local radio in Britain, at Brighton, where he produced programmes about the countryside, consumer affairs, books, religion, student life and the local and general elections. He then moved to Plymouth, where he helped to start a breakfast-time two-hour sequence of news and local features.

A chance encounter with the warden of a local visitor attraction led him to make a slide-tape programme for its visitors. “I didn’t know this was new; it just seemed interesting. It was only when people started to come from all over Britain to see it, and then ask me if I could make one for them, that I realised”. For four years he ran his own business making interpretive audio-visual programmes for most of the national agencies in Britain and many visitor attractions.

Another chance encounter led him to his next post, Curator of the Cider Museum in Hereford. He planned and developed this museum from an idea in the trustees’ minds to its opening, running research and conservation projects and fund-raising by the then new means in modern Britain of a public scratchcard lottery. “One lady in a group I was lecturing to said that it was bad enough to be creating a visitor attraction about alcoholic drink, without using gambling to pay for it!” He wrote two books about orcharding and cidermaking, one just called Cidermaking from Shire Publications, the other A Drink for its Time, published by the Museum.

After that he returned to working for himself, writing scripts for exhibitions, taking on a freelance curatorial role, creating audio-visual programmes, and became more closely involved with planning visitor attractions. In 1986, with an old friend, Michael Glen, he formed Touchstone Associates, a consultancy business that undertook feasibility studies, tourism planning, visitor facility planning, the development of visitor attractions, scriptwriting, and related work.

These days, Michael concentrates on writing World Wide Words and providing citations and advice for the Oxford English Dictionary. He also wrote a third of the entries for the second edition of the Oxford Dictionary of New Words and for a while compiled a weekly New Words column in the Daily Telegraph. His recent book, Ologies and Isms, a dictionary of affixes, was published by Oxford University Press in August 2002. His next, Port Out, Starboard Home: And Other Language Myths, was published in the UK by Penguin Books in 2004, was serialised in the Daily Telegraph and was for a while on the British best-seller lists; a US edition, entitled Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds, has been published by the Smithsonian Institution Press. He is currently working on a book for Oxford University Press.


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