Balderdash

Origin of: Balderdash

Balderdash

It is a pity that such a lovely expressive word meaning rubbish or nonsense should have an origin shrouded in mystery and conjecture. There is something immensely satisfying about saying balderdash in response to someone’s groundless opinions. One would expect such a word to appear somewhere in Shakespeare but alas, not so, although it does make its first appearance at around that time. In the 16th century, balderdash was a jumbled mixture of alcoholic beverages, beer, wine, brandy etc. It had unpleasant, unappetising connotations but, by the late 17th century, it had taken on its modern meaning of a jumble of senseless words or twaddle. Some etymologists claim the word derives from the Welsh baldordus meaning idle chatter, while others point to the Dutch balderen meaning to roar or thunder and other related words in various Scandinavian languages. No one, however, has yet come up with convincing proof of its true etymology or origin.