Thursday, March 16, 2017


As a noun, blarney means nonsense intended to charm or persuade. In other words, affable BS.

As a verb, it means to employ nonsense to those ends. In other words, to BS someone.

The slang term is American, and over two centuries old. It got its meaning from two sources:

  • The false claims by thousands of Irish Americans "to have kissed the Blarney Stone," when in fact they'd never set foot in County Cork.

  • Lady Blarney, a smooth-talking liar who appears in Oliver Goldsmith's 1766 novel The Vicar of Wakefield.
A lot of blarney is harmless; what Jungians would call "extroverted thinking." Because he thinks out loud, the extroverted thinker spouts a ton of nonsense all day long. It feels good and means little.

But some blarney is ominous: it's meant to fool.

The term for that form of blarney is

Trumpery is a Middle English word that refers to anything that's attractive, but of no real value. "Truthful hyperbole" fits the category.

Trumpery also denotes trickery, and derives from the French word tromper, to deceive. Today we call those tricky paintings meant to deceive trompe l'oeil.

Savor blarney, but beware of trumpery.

And, no blarney, Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Powered by Blogger.