humbug vs tommyrot what difference

what is difference between humbug and tommyrot



Origin unknown; the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) states that “the facts as to its origin appear to have been lost, even before the word became common enough to excite attention”. It has been suggested that the word possibly derives from hummer ((slang) An obvious lie), or from hum ((dialectal and slang) to cajole; delude; impose on) + bug (a goblin, a spectre). In his Slang Dictionary (1872), English bibliophile and publisher John Camden Hotten (1832–1873) suggested a link to the name of the German city of Hamburg, “from which town so many false bulletins and reports came during the war in the last century”.

Hotten also said he had traced the earliest occurrence of the word to the title page of Ferdinando Killigrew’s book The Universal Jester (see quotations), which he dated to about 1735–1740. This dating has therefore been adopted by other dictionaries. However, the OED dates the word to about 1750, as the earliest edition of Killigrew’s work has been dated to 1754.


  • (Received Pronunciation, Canada) IPA(key): /ˈhʌmbʌɡ/
  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈhəmˌbəɡ/
  • Hyphenation: hum‧bug


humbug (countable and uncountable, plural humbugs)

  1. (countable, slang) A hoax, jest, or prank.
  2. (countable, slang) A fraud or sham; (uncountable) hypocrisy.
  3. (countable, slang) A cheat, fraudster, or hypocrite.
  4. (uncountable, slang) Nonsense.
  5. (countable, Britain) A type of hard sweet (candy), usually peppermint flavoured with a striped pattern.
  6. (US, countable, slang) Anything complicated, offensive, troublesome, unpleasant or worrying; a misunderstanding, especially if trivial.
  7. (US, countable, African American Vernacular, slang) A fight.
  8. (countable, US, African American Vernacular, slang, dated) A gang.
  9. (countable, US, crime, slang) A false arrest on trumped-up charges.
  10. (countable, slang, perhaps by extension) The piglet of the wild boar.


  • Finnish: humpuuki
  • German: Humbug
  • Hungarian: humbug (perhaps in part through German)
  • Polish: humbug (perhaps in part through German)




  1. (slang) Balderdash!, nonsense!, rubbish!


humbug (third-person singular simple present humbugs, present participle humbugging, simple past and past participle humbugged)

  1. (slang) To play a trick on someone, to cheat, to swindle, to deceive.
    • 1810, Henry Brooke, “Epilogue on Humbugging”, in Samuel Johnson and Alexander Chalmers, The Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper; including the Series Edited, with Prefaces, Biographical and Critical, by Dr. Samuel Johnson: And the Most Approved Translations. The Additional Lives by Alexander Chalmers, F.S.A. In Twenty-one Volumes, volume XVII (Glover, Whitehead, Jago, Brooke, Scott, Mickle, Jenyns), London: Printed for J[ames] Johnson; [et al.], OCLC 460902446, page 428:
      Of all trades and arts in repute or possession, / Humbugging is held the most ancient profession. / Twixt nations, and parties, and state politicians, / Prim shopkeepers, jobbers, smooth lawyers, physicians, / Of worth and of wisdom the trial and test / Is—mark ye, my friends!—who shall humbug the best.
    • 1873 May 1, John F. French, “Farming—Present and Prospective”, in James O. Adams, New Hampshire Agriculture. Third Annual Report of the Board of Agriculture to His Excellency the Governor, Nashua, N.H.: Orren C. Moore, state printer, OCLC 659327991, pages 204–205:
      Then again farmers are shamefully, lamentably, sometimes almost ruinously humbugged. All classes it is true are humbugged to a certain extent, but farmers in my view suffer themselves to be fooled and swindled in this respect to a greater degree than any other class in the community. They are humbugged in seeds, humbugged in manures, humbugged in agricultural implements, humbugged by agents, humbugged by patent peddlers, humbugged by store-keepers, humbugged by politicians, humbugged by corporations, till finally, some of them are in danger of becoming little less than humbugs themselves.
  2. (US, African American Vernacular, slang) To fight; to act tough.
  3. (slang, obsolete) To waste time talking.

Usage notes

The spellings humbuging and humbuged exist, but are not nearly so common as humbugging and humbugged.

Derived terms

  • humbugger
  • humbuggery
  • humbugging (noun)


  • humbug in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.
  • John A. Simpson and Edward S. C. Weiner, editors (1989), “humbug”, in The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press, →ISBN.
  • humbug in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.

Further reading

  • humbug on Wikipedia.Wikipedia



From English.


  • IPA(key): [ˈhumbuɡ]
  • Hyphenation: hum‧bug
  • Rhymes: -uɡ


humbug (plural humbugok)

  1. humbug




  1. humbug!

Further reading

  • humbug in Bárczi, Géza and László Országh. A magyar nyelv értelmező szótára (’The Explanatory Dictionary of the Hungarian Language’). Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1959–1962. Fifth ed., 1992: →ISBN


Alternative forms

  • tommy-rot


tommyrot (usually uncountable, plural tommyrots)

  1. Nonsense, rot.
    • 1938, Siegfried Sassoon, The Old Century, Faber and Faber (1967), p 154.
      My brothers, on the other hand, considered that my talents were overrated. Putting it plainly, they told me that what I wrote was tommy-rot.

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