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What is Malarkey?
When they are full of it
Certain words get bandied about by old people – malarkey is one of them.
But what is this word that became so popular during the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate? It comes in bulk as in “a load of malarkey”. Malarkey, also known as “stuff” also known as “bull s#*t”, is a good clean way of calling someone out for perpetuating a galactic level piece of nonsense without making the television censors have a stroke.
“Malarkey” is word with a bit of antiquated class and intelligence. When it is used, we hear it and think that it’s a word that is more likely to escape the lips of our grandparents rather than come from a more conventional tongue.
Personally, I like the word.
It rolls off the tongue with a bit of musk and dust and still manages to cut through a conversation like a hot knife through a stick of butter. Malarkey. What’s all this then? Malarkey.
Words in Amazon
Origin of the word
I have to confess that I had some difficulty finding the etymology of this word. Each dictionary that checked came up with “unknown”.
I was hoping that "malarkey" stemmed from some great Irish mythological figure like "Thomas O'Malarkay". This fictitious person would be famous for babbling complete and utter falsehoods in his quaint Erin town. And later he was tried and punished by having his tongue cut out and fed to wolves.
No such luck.
The true definition of malarkey is “meaningless talk” or “nonsense and foolishness”. The origin of this word is actually uncertain. It’s been in use in the US and the UK since the 1920’s and has had different spellings. It goes by “malaky”, “malachy”, and “mullarkey”.
Speculated meanings have been thought that it came through the greek word “malakia” or the Irish term “mullachan” meaning ruffian or termed through the Irish clan of “Malarkey” although there is no evidence to suggest that any person of that last name to perpetuate such nonsense talk.
So, it’s still a mystery for the most part.
What is known is that it was used early in the 1920’s by cartoonist T. A. Dorgan and it appeared frequently after that. By the 1930’s, it was common parlance.
I miss the times when we could use an innocent term like “malarkey” and have it understood by most people. Nowadays, most people say that the other guy is full of s#*t. I also enjoy using the term “shenanigans” which means “trickery, skullduggery, or underhanded action.”
When you call “shenanigans” on someone, you are calling them a cheating liar. It’s something that goes hand in hand with “malarkey”. Personally, I don’t like people who engage in either shenanigans or malarkey. They strike me as people that are untrustworthy and they are certainly people I would not want in public office.
Because they’re full of it.
It’s like working with someone who’s constantly trying to pull the Jedi Mind Trick on you. After a while, you either tell them to stop or put a fist in his face. The former option is polite and the latter is just plain satisfying.
I think it’s funny that we can be so cavalier about creating words that indicate the worst characteristics of the human condition yet the ones that describe our noblest virtues are stalwart. “Truthful”, “honest”, “forthright”, or “ethical” seem to have no slang to them. I think it’s because they endure. There is no urban translation for a good person. Not that I know of, anyway.
I also think it’s more fun to think of something clever and sharp to hurl to people who desperately need to be hung for their shenanigans and malarkey.