See also: Bogus and Boguś

English edit

Etymology edit

First attested as an underworld term for an apparatus for creating counterfeit coins, then the coins themselves. Later, the word was applied to anything of poor quality. The newest use to mean useless is probably from the slang of computer hackers.

The origin is unknown, but there are at least two theories that try to trace its origin:

  • From Hausa boko (to fake). Since bogus first appeared in the United States, it may be possible that its ancestor was brought there on a slave ship.
  • From criminal slang as a short form of tantrabogus, a 19th-century slang term for a menacing object, making some believe that bogus might be linked to bogy or bogey (see bogeyman). In this sense, Bogus might be related to Bogle – a traditional trickster from the Scottish Borders, noted for achieving acts of household trickery; confusing, but not usually damaging.

Pronunciation edit

Adjective edit

bogus (comparative more bogus, superlative most bogus)

  1. Counterfeit or fake; not genuine.
    Synonyms: phony; see also Thesaurus:fake
    • 1842, Daniel Parish Kidder, Mormonism and the Mormons: A Historical View of the Rise and Progress of the Sect Self-styled Latter-Day Saints, Carlton & Lanahan:
      [] that he and David Whitmer swore falsley, stole, cheated, lied, sold bogus money, (base coin,), and also stones and sand for bogus; that letters in the post-office had been opened, read, and destroyed; and that those same men were concerned with a gang of counterfeiters, coiners, and blacklegs.
    • 1895, Alphonso Alva Hopkins, Wealth and Waste: The Principles of Political Economy in Their Application to the Present Problems of Labor, Law, and the Liquor Traffic, Funk & Wagnalls Company:
      They have printed bogus despatches, and unhesitatingly used what they knew was bogus matter in a way to mislead even newspaper men.
    • 1921, Burton J. Hendrick, The Age of Big Business:
      The organization of “bogus companies,” started purely for the purpose of eliminating competitors, seems to have been a not infrequent practice.
  2. (slang) Undesirable or harmful.
    • 1982, Cameron Crowe, Fast Times at Ridgemont High[1], spoken by Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn):
      What Jefferson was saying was, Hey! You know, we left this England place 'cause it was bogus; so if we don't get some cool rules ourselves - pronto - we'll just be bogus too! Get it?
  3. (computing, slang) Incorrect, useless, or broken.
  4. (philately) Of a totally fictitious issue printed for collectors, often issued on behalf of a non-existent territory or country (not to be confused with forgery, which is an illegitimate copy of a genuine stamp).
    Synonym: illegal
    • 1962, Douglas Patrick, The International Guide to Stamps and Stamp Collecting: Includes the Answers to 1200 Questions Most Often Asked about Stamps:
      Bogus stamps are labels made to deceive stamp collectors. Many bogus stamps were made prior to 1900 when some had names of imaginary countries.
  5. Based on false or misleading information or unjustified assumptions.
    bogus laws

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

Noun edit

bogus (uncountable)

  1. (US, dialect) A liquor made of rum and molasses.
    • 1848, John Russell Bartlett, Dictionary of Americanisms: A glossary of words and phrases, usually regarded as peculiar to the United States:
      BOGUS. A liquor made of rum and molasses.
    • 1919, Harvey Washington Wiley, Beverages and Their Adulteration: Origin, Composition, Manufacture, Natural, Artificial, Fermented, Distilled, Alkaloidal and Fruit Juices:
      "Calibogus," or "bogus" was cold rum and beer unsweetened.
    • 2014, J. Anne Funderburg, Bootleggers and Beer Barons of the Prohibition Era, page 311:
      The American colonists drank rum straight, spiced, or mixed. They combined it with a list of ingredients: rum mixed with hard cider was called stonewall; rum and beer made bogus; rum and molasses made blackstrap.
  2. (US, dialect, archaic) Counterfeit money.
    • 1841 December 8, “Western Court Eloquence”, in Carlisle Weekly Herald, page 2:
      “Ahem—it is the opinion of the court that the prisoner has been making bogus; so we must put him in the jug until Superior Court. []
    • 1846, Joseph H. Jackson, The Adventures and Experience of Joseph H. Jackson: Disclosing the Depths of Mormon Villainy Practiced in Nauvoo, page 15:
      There is not a merchant in this city but knows this fact, and also that there has been a large quantity of bogus in circulation.
    • 1848 January 26, C. C., “[Letter]”, in The Washington Union, published 1848 February 28, page 3:
      This being agreed to, they hand the soldier the same number of dollars they received from him—but all counterfeit. This new way of passing bogus they have practised to a considerable extent []
    • 1994, John L. Brooke, The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644–1844, →ISBN, pages 269–70:
      Edward Bonney, a bounty hunter who passed bogus on occasion, claimed to have been working to break up yet another gang operating on the Mississippi with a base at Nauvoo.

Derived terms edit

Related terms edit

References edit