Posted by ESC on May 13, 2000

In Reply to: Balderdash posted by Jerry McQueen on May 13, 2000

: My son, who at 14 knows everything, assures me that this word originally meant a fast receding hairline in the human male. Has this any basis in fact?

MY teen-ager wandered by while I was looking this up. She said Balder is the Norse god of joy. Here's what I found:

Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson: "balderdash. Nonsense, senseless jumble of words or ideas. 'Balderdash' is still another word for which no one knows the origin. First recorded in the late 16th century, it meant a light frothy liquid, then came to mean incongruous liquids, such as beer and milk mixed together and finally took its modern meaning. The Danish 'balder,' 'noise, clatter,' has been suggested as its parent, but this derivation seems doubtful at best."

The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William and Mary Morris: "balderdash goes back to Shakespeare's time and originally meant an incongruous mixture of liquors, such as wine mixed with beer. The word gradually came to mean pretentious, bombasic and essentially senseless prose..."