horn·​swog·​gle | \ ˈhȯrn-ˌswä-gəl How to pronounce hornswoggle (audio) \
hornswoggled; hornswoggling\ ˈhȯrn-​ˌswä-​g(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce hornswoggle (audio) \; hornswoggles

Definition of hornswoggle

transitive verb

: to trick or deceive (someone) : bamboozle, hoax … trying to avoid getting hornswoggled by advertising claims …— Jennifer Rude Klett often used with into or out of By the end of the call, Santillo had allegedly hornswoggled Olson into parting with her life savings …— Gary CraigIf you want to know what hell can really do in the way of furies, look for the chap who has been hornswoggled into taking a long and unnecessary bicycle ride in the dark without a lamp.— P. G. WodehouseHe also saw his mother get hornswoggled out of $500—seven weeks' salary, the family's entire savings—by a slick traveling vacuum salesman.— Kim Lachance Shandrow

Did you know?

Hornswoggle is a slang word of some considerable mystery, at least where its etymology is concerned. The word appears to have originated in the southern United States in the early 19th century. The earliest known written record comes from an 1829 issue of The Virginia Literary Magazine in its glossary of Americanisms. The magazine states that hornswoggle came from Kentucky, and its oddness matches nicely with other 19th-century Americanisms, such as sockdolager, absquatulate, callithump, slumgullion, and skedaddle. While the exact point at which hornswoggle entered our language, and the way in which it was formed, may remain unknown, it is a charming addition to our language, joining bamboozle and honeyfuggle as colorful ways to say "to deceive."

Examples of hornswoggle in a Sentence

I think we've been hornswoggled by that carnival barker.

First Known Use of hornswoggle

1877, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hornswoggle

origin unknown

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The first known use of hornswoggle was in 1877

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Last Updated

14 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hornswoggle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hornswoggle. Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

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