Gobbledygook or gobbledegook (sometimes gobbledegoo) is jargon or especially convoluted language that results in it being excessively hard to understand or even incomprehensible. "Officialese" or "bureaucratese" is one form of gobbledygook. There are two distinct and opposite cases. One is that incomprehensible material is actual gibberish. In the other some obscure material is either ineptly presented or is subjectively perceived to be gibberish due to a lack of preparation. The SMOG statistic for gobbledygook for example yields an index in terms of years of required education.
According to Michael Quinion on his World Wide Words website the word was first coined on 21 May 1944 by Maury Maverick, a congressman from Texas. His comments, recorded in the New York Times Magazine, were made when Maverick was the Democratic chairman of the US Congress Smaller War Plants Committee. He was being critical of the obscure language used by other committee members. The allusion was to a turkey, “always gobbledy gobbling and strutting with ludicrous pomposity.” It is sometimes abbreviated slightly to gobbledygoo.
Contemporary reports, as shown by a United Press dispatch published in the Pittsburgh Press, identify the date of Maverick's statement as March 31. Maverick's message includes the following sentence: "Stay off the gobbledygook language. It only fouls people up."
Notable usage examples in politics
- "To the ordinary guy, all this is a bunch of gobbledygook. But out of the gobbledygook comes a very clear thing: you can't trust the government; you can't believe what they say; and you can't rely on their judgment. And the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing in America, is badly hurt by this, because it shows that people do things the President wants to do even though it's wrong, and the President can be wrong."
Reagan's tax revisions
- "Most (tax revisions) didn’t improve the system; they made it more like Washington itself: complicated, unfair, cluttered with gobbledygook and loopholes designed for those with the power and influence to hire high-priced legal and tax advisers."
- "Gobbledygook may indicate a failure to think clearly, a contempt for one's clients, or more probably a mixture of both. A system that can't or won't communicate is not a safe basis for a democracy."
The word has been used anachronistically in fiction set before the invention of the term. For example, in the British sitcom Blackadder Goes Forth, set in 1917 (27 years before the word was first used), the character General Melchett declares that he likes the term and orders Captain Darling to take note of it because he wants to "use it more often in conversation". In another British series, Robin Hood, set in the beginning of the 15th century, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Vaisey, uses the term to refer to Latin, in those days commonly used in the church. In the film The Green Mile, character Paul Edgecombe replies to his wife Jan, "Oh, you know doctors - gobbledygook mostly." The film version of The Green Mile is set in 1935, 9 years before the word's creation.
The term has also been used as a name for various fictional characters, albums, etc. In the video game Final Fantasy VI there is an enemy named Gobbledygook. The British children's show Alphabet Castle has a character called Gobbledygook the turkey, who always gets his words and letters jumbled up. Gobbledegook was a goblin comic character semi-regularly appearing in his own column in the fantasy gaming magazine White Dwarf until about issue 100. In a similar vein, the "Harry Potter" series names Gobbledegook as the language of the stories' version of goblins. "The Gobbledy Gooker" was a character in the World Wrestling Federation's Survivor Series, who "hatched" from an egg and then proceeded to dance with the announcer in the ring; widely considered one of the worst gimmicks created by wrestling fans, it inspired the now-annual WrestleCrap Award for worst gimmick of the year. "Gobbledigook" is also the first single from Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós's album Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust.
During World War Two Eleanora Wenz Anderson while working as an illustrator in California designed a character to illustrate the term. The character resembled a caricature of Woody Woodpecker with an exaggerated top knot.
In English, other common idioms indicating difficulty in understanding complicated language are: "It is all Greek to me" or "talking double Dutch". For complicated written language, a common expression is that something is "written in hieroglyphics". Bafflegab is a synonym.
In the midwestern region of the United States, gobbledygook is also the name for a popular breakfast dish made up of eggs, bacon, and buttered toast mixed in a bowl together and served with toast on the side.
- Mojibake — Random nonsense characters generated by foreign text
- SMOG (Simple Measure Of Gobbledygook)
- Sokal affair
- Stanley Unwin (comedian)
- List of plain English words and phrases
- Gartner, Michael. "Words: Gobbledygook". Milwaukee Journal, May 26, 1985, Green Sheet p. 2. Retrieved on May 30, 2013.
- | title= World Wide Words Michael Quinion Accessed, 11-11-2011
- United Press. "Gobbledygook? Lay Off It, Maverick Says". Pittsburgh Press, March 31, 1944, p. 2. Retrieved on May 30, 2013.
- Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations at Bartleby.com
- Marilyn vos Savant, Parade Magazine Contemporary Quotes
|Look up gobbledygook in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|