verb (used with object), bam·boo·zled, bam·boo·zling.
verb (used without object), bam·boo·zled, bam·boo·zling.
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Origin of bamboozle
historical usage of bamboozle
The earliest meaning of bamboozle was “to deceive by trickery, hoodwink,” which is why some believe that it arose among the criminals of the underworld. One colorful, but unlikely, theory has it that bamboozle comes from bombazine, a kind of fabric that, dyed black, used to be worn for mourning. One has to imagine black-bombazine-wearing widows in the mid- to late 17th century bilking young gentlemen out of their purses.
By 1712, it had acquired the sense “to perplex; mystify.” It is not known for certain, but this sense might have emerged under the influence of the Scottish word bumbaze (or bombaze), meaning “to confuse,” similar in both sound and meaning. Given the befuddling qualities of alcohol, it's not too surprising to find that, in the 1800's, bamboozle showed up on college campuses as a slang term for “drunk.”
Far from slinking into obscurity, bamboozle today has left its lowly roots behind and found a secure place in the lexicon of standard English. Its very longevity stands as a reminder that you can't predict or enforce the fate of a word.
popular references for bamboozle
— Bamboozle: A board game by Milton Bradley introduced in 1876, notable for featuring the first large folding game board.
— Bamboozle: Milton Bradley introduced another board game with the same name in 1962. This game was based on the 1962 NBC-TV show McKeever and The Colonel.
— Bamboozle: A Parker Brothers (now Hasbro) game from 1997. It is a word game in which one team has to guess the words that another team came up with based on a list of randomly-generated letters.
— Bamboozled: A feature film (2000) directed by Spike Lee, about a frustrated African American television writer who proposes a minstrel show as a form of protest, which unexpectedly becomes a hit.
— The Bamboozle: An annual three-day music festival held in New Jersey.
OTHER WORDS FROM bamboozlebam·boo·zle·ment, nounbam·boo·zler, noun
Quotations related to bamboozle
- "The best day for people of any age to trick and be tricked is April Fool's Day, when we celebrate being bamboozled by harmless hoaxes. As Mark Twain said, ‘April 1 is the day on which we are reminded what we are on the other 364.’ "-Kathryn Lindskoog Fakes, Frauds & Other Malarkey (1992)
- "Ya been took! Ya been hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Led astray! Run amok! "-Denzel Washington as Malcolm X in the movie Malcolm X, directed by Spike Lee American Rhetoric (1992)
- "They’re counting on that you all forgot. They think that they can run the okey-doke on you. Bamboozle you. "-Barack Obama, reported by Sam Youngman Obama: Republicans want to ‘bamboozle’ voters this November Ballot Box (blog) (August 2, 2010)
- "I'll bambousle him, I'll befogify his brain. "-Thomas Chandler Haliburton The Clockmaker; or The Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick, of Slickville (1838)
- "Oh, you're a hot-air artist, but you can't bamboozle me! "-Van Zo Post Diana Ardway (1913)
Example sentences from the Web for bamboozle
To me, pseudoscience is somebody who uses the words of science in a superficial way to bamboozle people who don’t understand the science, which is most of us.
Rather than gatekeepers, we have right-wing mob leaders out to make a buck and gain fame by bamboozling Americans.
Speaking of Bamboozled, every Halloween you hear a horror story of a celebrity in blackface costume.Spike Lee on Blackface, ‘Oldboy,’ ’12 Years a Slave,’ and The Brooklyn Nets|Jimmy So|October 31, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Though certainly romantic on the subject, Booker has been neither corralled nor bamboozled.
Roseanne Barr thinks America has been “bamboozled and hoodwinked.”Roseanne Barr: Why You Should Vote for Me for President|Abigail Pesta|August 8, 2012|DAILY BEAST
Conservatives were “bamboozled,” says former Texas GOP Chairman Tom Pauken.
I am not here to be bamboozled, or to give you an opportunity for exercising any ability you may possess in the art of lying.The Lost Ambassador|E. Phillips Oppenheim
Here a younger peasant whispered in the spokesmans ear not to let himself be bamboozled.The White Terror and The Red|Abraham Cahan
Hard-headed men are not to be bamboozled into belief in reform by near approach to sweet doing nothing.Criminal Types|V. M. Masten
If I attempt to select them I shall be tricked and bamboozled into purchasing mere daubs and botches.
They are as plain as a pikestaff—only any man can be bamboozled by the silliest of them.The Career of Katherine Bush|Elinor Glyn