Trend Watch

Argle-bargle

When:

Lookups spiked on June 26, 2013.

Why:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA] was unconstitutional. In his written dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia claimed that "the real rationale of today's opinion, whatever disappearing trail of its legalistic argle-bargle one chooses to follow, is that DOMA is motivated by 'bare . . . desire to harm.'"

Argle-bargle, a relatively rare and primarily British word, means "a lively argument."

Justice Scalia was giving it a negative connotation – suggesting that the "legalistic argle-bargle" of the Court majority is a labyrinthine sort of word-wrangling that doesn't clearly lead anywhere.

Argle-bargle is formed by rhyming reduplication, a process that gave us words like "super duper" and "humdrum" (both of which have also been used by Scalia in Supreme Court opinions or oral arguments).

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!
May 04, 2015
cozen Hear it
to deceive by coaxing or trickery
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears