1 : a braided cord worn by Boy Scouts as a neckerchief slide, hatband, or ornament
2 : a wasteful or impractical project or activity often involving graft
Did You Know?
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.
"It may be an urban legend that the Pentagon spent $600 on a hammer in the 1980s, but it's no secret that the Department of Defense has at times acquired a well-deserved reputation for boondoggles and profligate spending." — The National Review, 16 Oct. 2017
"Conservatives often reflexively dismiss infrastructure spending as a boondoggle, and liberals, perhaps in reaction, often reflexively defend it, no matter how wasteful." — Jim Surowiecki, The New Yorker, 23 Jan. 2017
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
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What is the name for a cord or strap that holds something, like a key or whistle, and is usually worn around the neck?VIEW THE ANSWER
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