Definition of boondoggle
- The project is a complete boondoggle—over budget, behind schedule, and unnecessary.
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Critics say the dam is a complete boondoggle—over budget, behind schedule, and unnecessary.
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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.
First Known Use: 1927See Words from the same year
: an expensive and wasteful project usually paid for with public money
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