Dictionary.com

boondoggle

[ boon-dog-uhl, -daw-guhl ]
/ ˈbunˌdɒg əl, -ˌdɔ gəl /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: boondoggle / boondoggled / boondoggling on Thesaurus.com

noun
a wasteful and worthless project undertaken for political, corporate, or personal gain, typically a government project funded by taxpayers: Is high-speed rail a valuable addition to infrastructure, or a boondoggle?
work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
a product of simple manual skill, as a plaited leather cord for the neck or a knife sheath, made typically by a camper or a scout.
verb (used with object), boon·dog·gled, boon·dog·gling.
to deceive or attempt to deceive: to boondoggle investors into a low-interest scheme.
verb (used without object), boon·dog·gled, boon·dog·gling.
to do work of little or no practical value merely to keep or look busy.
QUIZ
SPRINT TO THE FINISH WITH THIS OLYMPICS QUIZ!
Compete in our Olympics quiz to see if you can take home the gold medal in Olympics knowledge.
Question 1 of 10
Where was the Olympics first held?
Meet Grammar CoachWrite or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing
Meet Grammar CoachImprove Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help

Origin of boondoggle

An Americanism dating back to 1930–35; said to have been coined by R. H. Link, American scoutmaster, as name for def. 3

OTHER WORDS FROM boondoggle

boon·dog·gler, noun

Words nearby boondoggle

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

VOCAB BUILDER

What does boondoggle mean?

A boondoggle is a government project considered to have little purpose or value and to be a waste of taxpayer money.

More generally, it can refer to any work done simply to look busy. These senses of the word are based on its original, literal meaning: a decorative but otherwise useless cord of braided leather or plastic (or another such handicraft) stereotypically made by Scouts.

Boondoggle can also be used as a verb meaning to deceive. All senses of the word are primarily used in the U.S. and Canada.

Example: Critics called the mayor’s proposal for a tech hub nothing more than a boondoggle to please his political donors.

Where does boondoggle come from?

The first records of the word boondoggle come from the 1930s. The term is often attributed to American scoutmaster R.H. Link. The literal sense of the word refers to the kind of braided cords often made by Scouts, which are typically attached to things like handkerchiefs and keychains as a decoration.

Today, boondoggle is commonly associated with unnecessary government spending, especially by the U.S. federal government. A project is typically called a boondoggle by those who think it’s unnecessary and wasteful. Boondoggles are often blamed on politicians who add such expenditures into budgets as a favor to their cronies, or as a way of getting a favor in return. Boondoggle is always used in a negative way to criticize such projects as worthless or pointless, and especially as a waste of money and resources.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to boondoggle?

  • boondoggler (noun)

What are some synonyms for boondoggle?

What are some words that often get used in discussing boondoggle?

 

How is boondoggle used in real life?

Boondoggle is primarily an American term used in the context of politics. It’s always used negatively—unless it literally refers to the little braided trinkets made by Scouts.

 

 

Try using boondoggle!

Which of the following words is LEAST likely to describe a boondoggle?

A. wasteful
B. pointless
C. efficient
D. useless

How to use boondoggle in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for boondoggle

boondoggle
/ (ˈbuːnˌdɒɡəl) informal, mainly US and Canadian /

verb
(intr) to do futile and unnecessary work
noun
a futile and unnecessary project or work

Derived forms of boondoggle

boondoggler, noun

Word Origin for boondoggle

C20: said to have been coined by R. H. Link, American scoutmaster
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
FEEDBACK