Thursday, October 11, 2012


Did you see the Vice Presidential debate last night? Word of the night: MALARKEY!

Joe Biden, in the first ten minutes --- maybe 5 --- labelled Paul Ryan's gibberish as malarkey! We looked up the word to see where it came from, just for the heck of it. says: "ma·lar·key    [muh-lahr-kee] noun Informal . speech or writing designed to obscure, mislead, or impress; bunkum: The claims were just a lot of malarkey."

But unfortunately, it says the origin of the word is unknown!

Big Malarkey, Little Malarkey, it's All Malarkey! T Shirts Wikipedia lists several historic people named Malarkey, including baseball player John S. Malarkey , and American military officer and Technical Sergeant Donald G. Malarkey. But neither of them has a history that seems to lend itself to the nonsense of this word.

World Wide Words says: "...where this odd-looking word comes from is decidedly uncertain. What we do know is that it began to appear in the US in the early 1920s in various spellings, such as malaky, malachy, and mullarkey. Its first known user was the cartoonist T A Dorgan, in 1922, but it only began to appear widely at the end of the decade. By 1930, Variety could pun on it: “The song is ended but the Malarkey lingers on.”

Various theories have been advanced. Eric Partridge pointed to the modern Greek word malakia but he formed a group of one. His later editor, Paul Beale, noted the London expression Madame Misharty, the personification of sales talk, exaggerated claims, and wild predictions, a name that was supposedly that of a fortune teller. But this is stretching a possible linguistic link to breaking point and, in any case, we know it started life in North America. Others point to the family name Malarkey, though who the eponymous member of the tribe might have been whose Irish-derived gift of the gab could have given rise to the name remains unknown. Jonathon Green likewise suggests a Irish origin in mullachan, a strongly-built boy or ruffian, though this, too, seems a stretch of meaning.

We’ll just have to settle for the unsatisfactory “origin unknown”."

The Presidential "Malarkey" Team Tees Romney Malarkey 2012 tshirt Biden Ryan Malarkey Debate Tee I'll add more Malarkey tshirts as they become available. For now, click on the images to learn more or to buy the featured Malarkey tshirts.

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