Poppycock and Piffle One More Time

Poppycock is a lovely word. It sounds so very English.

It sounds very much like it belongs to the early nineteenth century, the English Regency. I’m sure I’ve read it in Regency novels. I strongly suspect I used it myself, back in the days before computers and the internet, when it wasn’t so easy to check on the derivations of words.

Oh, well.

Poppycock, according to the O.E.D., is U.S. slang meaning nonsense, rubbish, humbug. It dates from around 1884.

Piffle is another word that sounds as if it belongs to the English Regency. It doesn’t; I just looked it up.

I’m sure I’ve used piffle in a Regency, and not that long ago.

Piffle means to talk or act in a feeble, trifling, or ineffective way. An 1847 definition has it meaning to be squeamish or delicate. In the 1890’s it referred to foolish or formal nonsense, twaddle, trash. At least it’s English slang.

A  piffler was a trifler or a twaddler.

I almost wish I hadn’t written this post.

However, my next novel is going to be Victorian. Set in both America and England.

I guarantee I’ll be using both these words.

Published in: on February 22, 2009 at 5:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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