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English word of the week IV

I started this series eight months ago and then, well, life got in the way. I have now decided to continue the series, so here is the fourth entry!


A word coined by Maury Maverick, a congressman from Texas, during his tenure as the chairman of the Smaller War Plants Corporation during World War II. Here is the memorandum he sent to everyone in the Corporation:

He later explained to The New York Times that the word refers to "talk or writing which is long, pompous, vague, involved, usually with Latinized words." Aka bureaucratic jargon. The idea was to draw parallels with a turkey, "always gobbledygobbling and strutting with ridiculous pomposity." Which reminds me: Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the States! Gobble gobble! Børk børk børk børk!

Gobbledygook has later become a synonym for nonsensical language in the vein of poppycock and hogwash.

The mysterious galimatias

Le galimatias, qu’est ce que c’est ? Well, no one knows the origin of this French equivalent of gobbledygook. That has not prevented several languages from adopting this word.

  • Norwegian: galimatias
  • Spanish: galimatías
  • Portuguese: galimatias
  • Swedish: gallimatias
  • Russian: галиматья

Stop making fun of Welsh!

For some reason, many languages associate nonsensical language with Welsh. Personally, I think it is just jealousy brought about by having to use a less cool language. :)

  • Dutch: koeterwaals
  • German: Kauderwelsch
  • Norwegian: kaudervelsk

[Edit: This bit is misleading. Please take a look at the comment section for a more accurate analysis of these words. Also, my thanks to Multitaal and jennagabriela for pointing out my stupidity.]


The Welsh word for nonsense is lol. I assume this is a way to get back at the Dutch for using the word koeterwaals, since in Dutch lol means fun. :P

Russian magic

Abracadabra is known widely as an incantation. It may - or may not - derive from Hebrew or Aramaic expression meaning “what was said has come to pass”. The Russians use абракадабра not only as a magic word, but also when they are referring to nonsense.

Bad beer and stammering

The Swedes regard nonsensical language to be on par with lousy beer. Rappakalja derives from Finnish rapakalja (lit. mud beer), which refers to cheap, low-quality beer. It is usually translated as balderdash.

The Poles seem to equate gobbledygook with the state that is achieved by drinking too much rapakalja, since bełkot also refers to stammering.

La supercàzzola

Despite my best efforts, I am yet to fully understand what this Italian word often translated as gobbledygook actually means. I need someone to help me in the comments or one of these:


This Finnish equivalent of gobbledygook is probably a corruption of lorem ipsum, a filler text used in publishing and graphic design. The text is based on a short excerpt of De finibus bonorum et malorum by Cicero with words removed, added and distorted to an extent that the text only appears to be written in Latin.

And finally, some gobbledygook-related, Icelandic music that you absolutely must hear.

Please comment below, should your native language or a language you are learning have an expression that is similar to gobbledygook. And Italians! I need you to tell me what supercàzzola means!

Happy Duolingoing, everyone! :)


November 22, 2017



It is interesting that this word should have been coined by Maury Maverick, the grandson of Samuel Maverick from whom we get the word 'maverick'.


For some reason, many languages associate nonsensical language with Welsh. Personally, I think it is just jealousy brought about by having to use a less cool language. :)
Dutch: koeterwaals
German: Kauderwelsch

I'm sorry but "Waals" and "welsch" are old words for the French language. Nothing to with the Welsh.
(don't know about Norwegian)


Yes, "waals" is the dutch word for the Walloons. Same with the word in German. It refers to a celtic (not french) language, not only to Welsh.


liirumlaarum reminds me on that german song, but I don't know if it has the same meaning: https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lirum,_larum_Löffelstiel


There was a strong German cultural influence in Finland in the 19th century (and earlier too due to Mikael Agricola, the developer of written Finnish, being a student of Luther’s), so your theory is more plausible than the one I discovered. :)


The Czech language has adopted galimatias as "galimatyáš", but with a looser meaning - it can be a confusing mixture of ideas, etc., not just language.

We also sometimes use "ptydepe" to refer to slang incomprehensible to outsiders. The word is a name of a fictional language from a play by Václav Havel.


Looks like I will have to add conlanger into my internal list of Václav Havel‘s achievents. Also, I would not want to be a zoologist studying wombats in a society that uses ptydepe! :P

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