Humbug is language that's either deceptive or just ridiculous. Either way, it's verbal garbage and inspires people to mutter "Bah! Humbug!" — just like Scrooge did in "A Christmas Carol."

Humbug is one of many words in English for language that can't be trusted. Humbug is like snake oil: it's deceptive, tricky, and meant to put one over on you. There's a slightly different type of humbug that refers to nonsense: speech or writing that's silly, pretentious, or just empty. When someone is talking a lot but saying nothing, they're talking humbug.

Definitions of humbug

n something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage

dupery, fraud, fraudulence, hoax, put-on
anything that is supposed to be valuable but turns out to be worthless
Type of:
chicane, chicanery, guile, shenanigan, trickery, wile
the use of tricks to deceive someone (usually to extract money from them)

n communication (written or spoken) intended to deceive

snake oil
Type of:
deceit, deception, misrepresentation
a misleading falsehood

n pretentious or silly talk or writing

baloney, bilgewater, boloney, bosh, drool, taradiddle, tarradiddle, tommyrot, tosh, twaddle
Type of:
bunk, hokum, meaninglessness, nonsense, nonsensicality
a message that seems to convey no meaning

v trick or deceive

Type of:
cozen, deceive, delude, lead on
be false to; be dishonest with

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