Looking for a colorful Americanism to describe how you've just been deceived out of all your money? Say you've been hornswoggled!

American English has a rich array of verbs to refer to swindling someone, like bamboozle, hoodwink, and humbug. Hornswoggle is one that's particularly fun to say. According to one story, the word comes from the way that a lassoed cow would move its head back and forth to try to break free. But most dictionaries simply say its origin is unknown, so let's just thank the anonymous 19th-century American wit who came up with this ridiculous word.

Definitions of hornswoggle

v deprive of by deceit

bunco, con, defraud, diddle, gip, goldbrick, gyp, mulct, nobble, rook, scam, short-change, swindle, victimize
short, short-change
cheat someone by not returning him enough money
Type of:
cheat, chisel, rip off
deprive somebody of something by deceit

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