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[boon-dog-uh l, -daw-guh l]
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  1. 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.
  2. work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
  3. a project funded by the federal government out of political favoritism that is of no real value to the community or the nation.
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verb (used with object), boon·dog·gled, boon·dog·gling.
  1. to deceive or attempt to deceive: to boondoggle investors into a low-interest scheme.
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verb (used without object), boon·dog·gled, boon·dog·gling.
  1. to do work of little or no practical value merely to keep or look busy.
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Origin of boondoggle

1930–35, Americanism; said to have been coined by R. H. Link, American scoutmaster, as name for def 1
Related formsboon·dog·gler, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for boondoggle


  1. (intr) to do futile and unnecessary work
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  1. a futile and unnecessary project or work
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Derived Formsboondoggler, noun

Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for boondoggle


1935, American English, of uncertain origin, popularized during the New Deal as a contemptuous word for make-work projects for the unemployed. Said to have been a pioneer word for "gadget;" it also was by 1932 a Boy Scout term for a kind of woven braid.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper