boon·​dog·​gle | \ ˈbün-ˌdä-gəl How to pronounce boondoggle (audio) , -ˌdȯ- \

Definition of boondoggle

1 : a braided cord worn by Boy Scouts as a neckerchief slide (see slide entry 2 sense 4b), hatband, or ornament
2 : a wasteful or impractical project or activity often involving graft The project is a complete boondoggle—over budget, behind schedule, and unnecessary.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from boondoggle

boondoggle intransitive verb
boondoggler \ ˈbün-​ˌdä-​g(ə-​)lər How to pronounce boondoggle (audio) , -​ˌdȯ-​ \ noun

Boondoggle Started With the Scouts

When boondoggle popped up in the pages of the New York Times in 1935, lots of people tried to explain where the word came from. One theory traced it to an Ozarkian word for gadget, while another related it to the Tagalog word that gave us boondocks. Another hypothesis suggested that boondoggle came from the name of leather toys Daniel Boone supposedly made for his dog. But the only theory that is supported by evidence is much simpler. In the 1920s, Robert Link, a scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America, apparently coined the word to name the braided leather cords made and worn by scouts. The word came to prominence when such a scout boondoggle was presented to the Prince of Wales at the 1929 World Jamboree, and it's been with us ever since.

Examples of boondoggle in a Sentence

Critics say the dam is a complete boondoggle—over budget, behind schedule, and unnecessary.
Recent Examples on the Web It’s not an optional boondoggle; it’s a scheduled event that is just as mandatory as an employee’s annual review. Paul Lanzi, Forbes, 28 May 2021 But some Republican leaders saw it as a gift to New York and a potential boondoggle that could wind up costing much more than advertised. New York Times, 28 May 2021 Additionally, Republicans argue, the president’s proposal is nothing more than a climate boondoggle, the partisan Green New Deal, dressed up as consensus infrastructure spending. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, 31 Mar. 2021 Diana Maurer, who has been monitoring the LCS program since the beginning for the GAO, stopped short of calling the program a boondoggle. Andrew Dyer, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 May 2021 Inevitably, critics suspect a boondoggle, a vanity project, a diversion from pressing problems on the ground. NBC News, 3 May 2021 Gazprom is a device to steer boondoggle contracts of no economic logic to Vladimir Putin’s circle, destroying value on an epic scale in the process. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 26 Mar. 2021 On its initial rollout, the PPP seemed like a government boondoggle designed to help the haves over the have-nots. Will Jeakle, Forbes, 8 Apr. 2021 Biden’s infrastructure plan drew quick rebukes from Republicans, who regard it as an extravagant socialistic boondoggle. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, 3 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'boondoggle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of boondoggle

1928, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for boondoggle

coined by Robert H. Link †1957 American scoutmaster

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About boondoggle

Time Traveler for boondoggle

Time Traveler

The first known use of boondoggle was in 1928

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About boondoggle

Statistics for boondoggle

Last Updated

3 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Boondoggle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for boondoggle



English Language Learners Definition of boondoggle

US : an expensive and wasteful project usually paid for with public money


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Dog Breeds

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!