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.

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 early 1900s, 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 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 Hall’s serious miscasting goes beyond a boondoggle but suggests that the filmmaker is clueless about her story’s issues and the facts of social living. Armond White, National Review, 2 Mar. 2022 But is biogas a crucial climate solution, or a boondoggle for big polluters? Los Angeles Times, 3 Mar. 2022 And there are thousands of motorists who have a great likelihood of getting snared in places like Brookside, Alabama’s traffic enforcement boondoggle. Selika Josiah Talbott, Forbes, 27 Jan. 2022 The most controversial component of Mr. Johnson’s net-zero boondoggle concerns an attempt to steer households away from the gas boilers on which 86% of them rely for hot water and central heating. Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, 30 Dec. 2021 There are a few ways of looking at the cost of a $3.5 trillion boondoggle. The Editors, National Review, 29 Sep. 2021 In recent years, renewable energy companies caught wind of this boondoggle, albeit traditionally at a smaller scale. Michael Taylor, San Antonio Express-News, 2 Mar. 2022 By 2016, around 100 Ackerman McQueen employees were detailed to the NRA account, coordinating bloated projects such as the infamous NRATV boondoggle, which drew an anemic audience while hemorrhaging cash on a dumbfounding scale. Chris Lehmann, The New Republic, 9 Nov. 2021 By Season 6, the Newark riverfront is being redeveloped, and has become a federal boondoggle. New York Times, 29 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of boondoggle was in 1928

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Last Updated

28 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Boondoggle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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