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Humbug   /hˈəmbˌəg/   Listen
Humbug

noun
1.
Pretentious or silly talk or writing.  Synonyms: baloney, bilgewater, boloney, bosh, drool, taradiddle, tarradiddle, tommyrot, tosh, twaddle.
2.
Communication (written or spoken) intended to deceive.  Synonym: snake oil.
3.
Something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage.  Synonyms: dupery, fraud, fraudulence, hoax, put-on.






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Humbug" Quotes from Famous Books



... standing upright like free and fearless men, and giving the devil's agent the straightest eye-puncher of which the human arm is capable. I thank Heaven, Sir, that I'm not made on that plan. I'm out to fight humbug and hypocrisy, even when they masquerade as friendship and benevolence; and when I see a fellow coming along with hundreds of pious texts in his mouth, and his hands dripping with the blood of innocent women and children, why, ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 150, January 19, 1916 • Various

... the members of that political junto, the Saints, who are worldly enough to link, as often as they can, into their association, the powerful by wealth or talent, his whole time is occupied in assisting to promote their humbug; and he has absolutely taken it into his head, that the attention he receives from them for his subscriptions is on account of his eloquence as a preacher, and that hitherto he has been altogether in an error with respect to his own ...
— The Ayrshire Legatees • John Galt

... smacked a glass of rich burgundy and cast his eyes about the ample board: 'They talk of public distress, but where do we find it, sir? I see none; I see no reason anyone has to complain. Take my word for it, sir, this talk about public distress is all humbug!'" ...
— Grain and Chaff from an English Manor • Arthur H. Savory

... that attitude, Vane. It may certainly be that our ghost is a humbug, or, rather, that we have no such thing as a ghost at all. And that is my own impression. But an idle generality is always futile—indeed, any generality usually is. You have, at least, no right to say, 'Ghosts are all humbug.' Because you ...
— The Grey Room • Eden Phillpotts

... from Monaghan, Sat down and refused to go on again, Till they gave him a crown for leaving the town, That wretched old humbug ...
— Cole's Funny Picture Book No. 1 • Edward William Cole

... goslin' takes to a puddle; and when she first come to town she commenced a-beggin', and has kep' it up ever since. She used to tackle me the same as she does everybody else, askin' me to give somethin' to this, and to that, and to t'other pet humbug of her'n, but I never would do it; and when she found she could'nt worry me into it, like the rest of 'em, it set her very bitter against me; and I heard of her tellin' I'd treated her with rudeness, which I'd always treated her civilly, only when I said ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 1, Issue 2, December, 1857 • Various

... understand your father very well," smiling dryly. It suited him just now to consider the captain a shrewd humbug, and his mysterious ailment the last dodge to ...
— Lippincott's Magazine, Vol. 20, August 1877 • Various

... heresy, and wrote with obvious annoyance of Brown's hastiness and dangerous concessions to the enemy.[468] Brown, however, impressed his contemporaries by his ability. Sydney Smith is probably reporting the current judgment of his own circle when he says[469] that in metaphysics Stewart was a 'humbug' compared with Brown. I certainly think that Stewart, whom I should be sorry to call a humbug, shows less vigour and subtlety. Brown, at any rate, impressed both the Mills, and his relation to them ...
— The English Utilitarians, Volume II (of 3) - James Mill • Leslie Stephen

... about; and so help me, I do believe that if ever the day comes that its honesty falls under great temptation, its grand reputation will go to ruin like a house of cards. There, now, I've made confession, and I feel better; I am a humbug, and I've been one all my life, without knowing it. Let no man call me honest again—I will ...
— The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg • Mark Twain

... Then they circulated reports about his having got drunk on different occasions, and having been caught drinking in secret; and some believed them, being of the same mind with the distiller, who asserted it to be mere humbug that any man could live without whiskey, and that wherever the croaking cold water society men did not drink in the daytime, they made up for it by drinking at night. These evil reports, however, fell dead after a little, and nobody was vile enough to take them up again; and though attempts were ...
— Select Temperance Tracts • American Tract Society

... heard, I suppose, how Dickens's 'Cricket' sells by nineteen thousand copies at a time, though he takes Michael Angelo to be 'a humbug'—or for 'though' read 'because.' Tell me of ...
— The Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Barrett, Vol. 1 (of 2) 1845-1846 • Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Barrett

... in a mistake, I could see. The one asked Madame whether she deigned to call her new house Tully-Veolan or Tillietudlem; and the other, when Maida happened to lay his nose against the window, exclaimed pro-di-gi-ous! In short, they evidently meant all their humbug not for you, but for the culprit of Waverley, and the rest of that there rubbish." "Well, well, Skipper," was the reply, "for a' that, the loons would hae been nane the waur o' ...
— Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Volume V (of 10) • John Gibson Lockhart

... then. Seriously, what are you going to those barbarous islands for—putting friendship and all such regards out of the question? Wheat takes you there,—without humbug? You must excuse me—but you are a very extraordinary person to look ...
— The Old Helmet, Volume II • Susan Warner

... to incite the old horse to the mutinous act of returning on his own account, he had walked into the taproom, and laid himself down before the fire. But, suddenly yielding to the conviction that the Deputy was a humbug, and must be abandoned, he had got up again, turned tail, and ...
— The Cricket on the Hearth • Charles Dickens

... fall, sure enough, but it will be simply because when our dear young knight, L.E., has killed her Dragon, she will have wiped out the whole brood! They can't live without their sweet and attractive little sister. And so, like many a bigger humbug, we shall take great credit, that belongs to somebody else, and assume to have done big things, at enormous expense of blood and money. ...
— Punchinello, Vol. 1, No. 26, September 24, 1870 • Various

... the prize for Devons at the Great Mesopotamian Agricultural with a brindled bull. We remember his weeping at the wedding-breakfast over the loss of his eldest treasure, and wonder if he was an arrant humbug, or only a foolish, fond old man, inclining morosely toward the former opinion. We don't seem to care much about Sir Roland de Vaux, the celebrated geologist, whom we shall have the privilege of meeting this evening. What are strata to us, when our thoughts will not go lower than about ...
— Guy Livingstone; - or, 'Thorough' • George A. Lawrence

... believe anything of the kind, Mr. Gordon. I know you've made a strike, but you had made it before you ever came to the valley. Mr. Davis told me so. We simply couldn't drive you out. That's all humbug. You want me to have it—and I'm not going to take it. That's all there ...
— A Daughter of the Dons - A Story of New Mexico Today • William MacLeod Raine

... laugh, and clung to him with a sudden, passionate closeness. "Nick, you—you humbug! ...
— The Way of an Eagle • Ethel M. Dell

... led to do so in noticing—if you did notice it—how your sudden appearance unnerved me down there. It was but a momentary faltering; and considering what you have been to me, it was natural enough. But will helped me through it—though perhaps you think me a humbug for saying it—and immediately afterwards I felt that of all persons in the world whom it was my duty and desire to save from the wrath to come—sneer if you like—the woman whom I had so grievously wronged was that person. I have come with that sole ...
— Tess of the d'Urbervilles - A Pure Woman • Thomas Hardy

... really excellent boys. Ti'a is the man who has just been fined half his wages; he is a beautiful old man, the living image of 'Fighting Gladiator,' my favourite statue - but a dreadful humbug. I think we keep him on a little on account of his looks. This sign o marks those who have been two years or upwards in the family. I note all my old boys have the cross of honour, except Misifolo; well, poor dog, he does his best, I suppose. You should see him scour. ...
— Vailima Letters • Robert Louis Stevenson

... unfailing command of the primal feelings, for his tenderness, his jollity and his power to read the heart of boy and man and woman; not only for the tragedies and afflictions of his life so unconquerably borne; not only for his brave and fiery dashes against tyranny, humbug, and corruption at home and abroad; but also because his countrymen feel him to be, beyond all other men, the ...
— Mark Twain • Archibald Henderson

... of his? I'm not going to stand his impudence, as I'll precious soon let him know. A likely story! He didn't buy me body and soul for his paltry salary, though he seems to think it. The old humbug in a cassock! It's a great deal of preaching and very little practice with ...
— Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Volume 22. October, 1878. • Various

... These people, in their daily life were like squirrels in a cage, and because they moved, they thought they were progressing. In them scepticism had killed belief; religion, family, country, were, as they phrased it, all humbug. They had only one aim, one passion—to enjoy themselves. Their watchword was "pleasure." All those who did not perish of consumption ...
— Serge Panine, Complete • Georges Ohnet

... selected. If the people are capable of electing their own presidents, governors, representatives and judges, surely they might be trusted to elect Custom-House officers and postmasters! Otherwise, our republicanism is a humbug. This would abolish the Washington grab-bag. It would also avoid the creation of a class of life-officials than which nothing could be more ...
— The Arena - Volume 4, No. 22, September, 1891 • Various

... sympathetic when sympathy was expected. With them he was even more popular than with the men, for the latter, although they admired and somewhat envied his varied acquirements, were apt in the intimacy of private conversation to speak of him as a humbug. ...
— Through the Fray - A Tale of the Luddite Riots • G. A. Henty

... wished to remember them in her prayers, she said; but the little white volcano almost laughed in her face, and the black diamond eyes twinkled furiously as they turned away to hide their scornful amusement—so strong was the nun's conviction that the new benefactress was a humbug. The Princess looked at the names quite calmly after she had written them—Sister Saint Paul, Sister Giovanna, and Sister Marius—and asked whether she had seen any of them during her visit. But the ...
— The White Sister • F. Marion Crawford

... 'You dear old humbug,' she cried, cutting short the sentence that neither of them quite understood, 'I believe you've known this ...
— A Prisoner in Fairyland • Algernon Blackwood

... one of the Workers, with a capital—you know. Something like an emissary of light, something like a lower sort of apostle. There had been a lot of such rot let loose in print and talk just about that time, and the excellent woman, living right in the rush of all that humbug, got carried off her feet. She talked about 'weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways,' till, upon my word, she made me quite uncomfortable. I ventured to hint that the Company was run ...
— Heart of Darkness • Joseph Conrad

... lost in the mists of ages. They have achieved the apotheosis of individual forgetfulness, and Plato has the added glory of that acquired beauty, that bust of the Indian Bacchus which is now indissolubly mingled with his tradition. They have passed into the world of the ideal, and every humbug takes his freedoms with their names. But Machiavelli, more recent and less popular, is still all human and earthly, a fallen brother—and at the same time that nobly dressed and nobly dreaming writer at ...
— The New Machiavelli • Herbert George Wells

... piling my traps in a heap. But I needed none, and indeed, throughout the whole time was under one but twice. Tents are all very well, when you are quietly encamped for any length, of time; but when, as with us, you are on the more continually, I consider them a humbug and nuisance. You must carry half a one all day, and at night join it with your comrade's half. The common shelter tent, which is the only one that can be so carried, is a poor protection against ...
— The Continental Monthly, Vol. IV. October, 1863, No. IV. - Devoted to Literature and National Policy. • Various

... love th' unhighschooled way 25 Ol' farmers hed when I wuz younger; Their talk wuz meatier, an' 'ould stay, While book-froth seems to whet your hunger; For puttin' in a downright lick 'Twixt Humbug's eyes, ther' 's few can metch it. 30 An' then it helves my thoughts ez slick Ez stret-grained ...
— The Vision of Sir Launfal - And Other Poems • James Russell Lowell

... "Hattie, that man's a humbug, that man's leading a double life. He said to me, 'How very charming Miss Madison is looking ...
— Aurora the Magnificent • Gertrude Hall

... black frost, and keen east wind, and there is no coal for the grate, and no clothes for the bed, and the thin bones are seen through the ragged clothes, does the rich man share his plenty with me, as he ought to do, if his religion wasn't a humbug? When I lie on my death-bed and Mary (bless her!) stands fretting, as I know she will fret," and here his voice faltered a little, "will a rich lady come and take her to her own home if need be, till she can look ...
— Mary Barton • Elizabeth Gaskell

... "Dame! Don't humbug me! I am not a court lady!" she cried hastily, almost petulantly, to cover the unwonted and unwelcome weakness; while, to make good the declaration and revindicate her military renown, she balanced herself lightly on the stone ledge of her oval hole, ...
— Under Two Flags • Ouida [Louise de la Ramee]

... got out of the room as quickly as he could, inwardly denouncing his friend Tom Towers as a prig and a humbug. "I know he wrote those articles," said Bold to himself. "I know he got his information from me. He was ready enough to take my word for gospel when it suited his own views, and to set Mr Harding up before ...
— The Warden • Anthony Trollope

... passion. "Cheated for once in my life! sold, if ever a fellow was! it's a regular trick that was played! They wanted to get rid of their beggar's brat, and palmed her off upon me, with that humbug story of the nabob of an uncle. I'll nabob her! And there's her ticket, which I was fool enough to pay for, and the carriage hire, and my trouble with this saucy thing, who holds her head up so high; if ever I am swindled again, ...
— Holidays at the Grange or A Week's Delight - Games and Stories for Parlor and Fireside • Emily Mayer Higgins

... terrible story had taken a hold of my imagination. Also, for reasons of my own, I greatly wished to see this Zikali, of whom I had heard a great deal in past years. I wished further to find out if he was a common humbug, like so many witch-doctors, this dwarf who announced that my fortunes were mixed up with those of his foster-son, and who at least could tell me something true or false about the history and position ...
— Child of Storm • H. Rider Haggard

... thinking which ought to be in the market. We hold our best thoughts and give our second best."... "We do a good deal of shirking in this life on the ground of not being geniuses. The truth is, there is an immense amount of humbug lurking in the folds of those specious theories about genius. Let a man or woman go to work at a thing, and the genius ...
— Lippincott's Magazine, September, 1885 • Various

... our commerce. How long will it be before retaliation on England begins, and, when it begins, how will it end? Ay—how will it end? It is not to be supposed that we can long be blinded by such a flimsy humbug as a transfer to Southern possession of these vessels 'for the Chinese trade!' Are the English mad, demented, or besotted, that they suppose we intend to endure such deliberate aid of our enemies? When those vessels 'for ...
— Continental Monthly, Vol. III, No IV, April 1863 - Devoted to Literature and National Policy • Various

... It was awful humbug that the commandant reeled off to his silent audience—hypocrisy garbed in paternal phrases, and interlarded with buncombe about Germany's mission to ...
— The Ivory Trail • Talbot Mundy

... o' grandmothers. Humbug and flummery! Sir,' cried Toole, most unexpectedly incensed, ...
— The House by the Church-Yard • J. Sheridan Le Fanu

... to her. "Don't you go getting caught by that sweep who runs their chapel up in London. He's a humbug if ever there was one—you mark my words. I know a thing or two. He's done your aunts a lot of harm, and he'll have his dirty fingers on you ...
— The Captives • Hugh Walpole

... have chosen me as the pail into which to pour his troubles I cannot say. I let him talk on, and when he had ended I showed him plainly that I had been thinking most of the time about something else. Whether Marriot was entirely a humbug or the most conscientious person on our stair, readers may decide. He was fond of argument if you did not answer him, and often wanted me to tell him if I thought he was in love; if so, why did I think so; if not, why not. What makes me on reflection fancy that he was sincere is that in his statements ...
— My Lady Nicotine - A Study in Smoke • J. M. Barrie

... propagandist, Mrs. Ernestine L. Rose, and her followers in pantalets and short gowns. The people outside, and especially those interested in the progress of legislation, are beginning to ask one another how long this farce is to continue. How long this most egregious and ridiculous humbug is to be permitted to obstruct the progress of business before the Committees and the Houses, and whether Mrs. Ernestine L. Rose and her followers ought not to be satisfied with the notoriety they have already attained. The great body of the people ...
— History of Woman Suffrage, Volume I • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage

... accident: it was entirely Erebus' own fault (he could swear it) that he tripped over her foot and pitched among those infernal brambles. Her howls of anguish were all humbug: he had not hurt her ankle (he could swear it); there was not a tear. The moment he offered, furiously, to carry her, she walked without a ...
— The Terrible Twins • Edgar Jepson

... his purposes. Here Brummell's knowledge of every body did him good service. The deputy on this occasion having once figured as the head of a veterinary hospital, or some such thing, but being then in the commissariat,—"Why, Vulcan!" exclaimed Brummell, "what a humbug you must be to come and lecture me on such a subject! You, who were for two years at hide-and-seek to save yourself from being shot by Sir T. S. for running off with one of his daughters." "Dear me," said the astonished friend, "you have touched a painful chord; I will have no more to ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine - Volume 55, No. 344, June, 1844 • Various

... believe that our purpose had been moral. That our trade was in danger of being out-rivalled, and the German navy had developed into such a formidable menace, that after France had been defeated, our own shores would have been immediately attacked by the Germans; it was therefore humbug to suggest that our motive had not been one of ...
— My Impresssions of America • Margot Asquith

... There is no humbug or braggadocio about Buffalo Bill. He is known far and wide, and his reputation has been earned honestly and by hard work. By a combination of circumstances he was educated to the life of a plainsman from his youth up; and not the least interesting portion of his career ...
— The Life of Hon. William F. Cody - Known as Buffalo Bill The Famous Hunter, Scout and Guide • William F. Cody

... fellow-men. Charlton's old, bitter aggressiveness, which had well-nigh died out under the sweet influences of Lurton's peacefulness, came back now, and he mentally pronounced the new chaplain a clerical humbug and an ecclesiastical fop, and all such mild paradoxical epithets as he was capable of forming. The hour of service was ended, and Charlton was in his cell again, standing under the high window, trying to absorb some of ...
— The Mystery of Metropolisville • Edward Eggleston

... distinctly revealed to our mind. As to Cuvier, Coleridge's hatred of him was more to our taste; for (though quite unreasonable, we fear) it took the shape of patriotism. He insisted on it, that our British John Hunter was the genuine article, and that Cuvier was a humbug. Now, speaking privately to the public, we cannot go quite so far as that. But, when publicly we address that most respectable character, en grand costume, we always mean to back Coleridge. For we are a horrible John Bull ourselves. ...
— Narrative And Miscellaneous Papers • Thomas De Quincey

... proposed by him long before would be found the only cure for the ills of the nation. "I offered," said he, "twelve months ago, a proposition, as a constitutional amendment, that was to give political rights to the negroes. Some Senators said it was a humbug, that it was Jacob Townsend's Sarsaparilla, or some thing to that effect, that it would amount to nothing. Now, I will ask what other protection can you give to a Union man in the Southern ...
— History of the Thirty-Ninth Congress of the United States • Wiliam H. Barnes

... the squire, "but as for that intolerable humbug, I declare I think his conduct unmanly, unsailorly, ...
— Treasure Island • Robert Louis Stevenson

... Horace that in the very next satire he makes his own servant Davus tell him that his rhapsodies about the country and its charms are mere humbug, and that, for all his ridicule of the shortcomings of his neighbours, he is just as inconstant as they are in his likings and dislikings. The poet in this way lets us see into his own little vanities, and secures the right by doing so to rally his friends for theirs. To his valet, at all events, ...
— Horace • Theodore Martin

... better than Carlyle that there is a world diameter between the South hiring a man for life, and by force holding him in slavery. But Carlyle for three years poured out such vapid humbug, cant and hypocrisy as this, and never once was sound in his thinking or fair in his view-point ...
— The Battle of Principles - A Study of the Heroism and Eloquence of the Anti-Slavery Conflict • Newell Dwight Hillis

... would have been better for you," returned his father, sharply: "we should not have had all this fooling and humbug if you had had sisters of ...
— Not Like Other Girls • Rosa N. Carey

... all think I'm a fool an' a humbug, 'cos I look it. Why, Eben Holden, if you was what ye looked, ye'd be in the presidential chair. Folks here 'n the valley think o' nuthin' but hard work—most uv 'em, an' I tell ye now this boy ain't a goin' t' be wuth putty on a farm. Look ...
— Eben Holden - A Tale of the North Country • Irving Bacheller

... the people is supreme, then away with your high and life-long judges, or at least let them be elected by the people and for very brief terms. Let grand juries be voted a humbug, and trial by jury a nuisance. Let electoral colleges be abolished as meaningless and cumbersome anomalies. Let the President be the direct representative of a mighty people, and act without let or hindrance—only let him act with gigantic energy and swift execution. Let senatorial terms ...
— The Continental Monthly, Volume V. Issue I • Various

... 'Nane o' yer blastit humbug!' she exclaimed, as, with a vigorous throw and a wriggle, she freed herself from his embrace and pushed ...
— Robert Falconer • George MacDonald

... "Humbug, man!" said Dick; "you're working yourself into a state of nervous excitement. Why, what the devil do you make of all that nonsense about a mysterious agent which would ...
— The Captain of the Pole-Star and Other Tales • Arthur Conan Doyle

... fellow-creatures, sick or well. Yet even before the Dop Doctor brought his great unhealed sorrow and his quenchless thirst to Gueldersdorp, the smug, plump, grey-haired, pink-faced, neatly-dressed little humbug ...
— The Dop Doctor • Clotilde Inez Mary Graves

... does he mean?" cried Algernon, and affected again and again to see what Edward meant, without success. "Stop it?—stop what?—Stop the train? Stop my watch? Stop the universe? Oh! this is rank humbug." He flung the paper down, and fell to counting the money in his possession. The more it dwindled, the more imperative it became that he should ...
— The Shaving of Shagpat • George Meredith

... the time, Aunt Maria, you couldn't help thinking, and it's worse to bottle it up. I'm always quite candid on the subject of my appearance," returned Darsie calmly. "On principle! Why should you speak the truth on every other subject, and humbug about that? When I've a plain fit I know it, and grovel accordingly, and when I'm nice I'm as pleased as Punch. I am nice to-day, thanks to you and Mason, and if other people admire me, why shouldn't I admire myself? I like to admire myself! It's like the cocoa advertisements, 'grateful ...
— A College Girl • Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey

... weighing an ounce and all Monterey Buzzed with excitement. Everyone wanted to test it with acids and microscopes. An old woman brought her ring and when placed side by side, the metal seemed identical; it was also compared with the gold knob of a cane. Some declare it a humbug, but it is generally believed ...
— Port O' Gold • Louis John Stellman

... wished naturally enough for our assistance in the coming battle. As for the marvellous chief Rezu, or rather for his supernatural attributes and all the cock-and-bull story about an axe—well, it was humbug like the rest, and if she believed in it she must be more foolish than I took her to be—even if she were unhinged on certain points. For the rest, her information about myself and Umslopogaas doubtless had reached her from Zikali in some obscure ...
— She and Allan • H. Rider Haggard

... fiend's name, spare us this alliteration and humbug," Cappy fairly shrieked. "You're driving me crazy. If it isn't platitude, it's your dog-gone habit of initialing things!" He placed his old elbows on his knees and bowed his head in his hands. "If ...
— Cappy Ricks Retires • Peter B. Kyne

... that I never could quite understand. I never, hardly, see a pure breed either of goat or sheep. I never see anybody who deserves go straight to heaven or who deserves to go straight to hell. When the judgment day comes it will be a difficult task. Why, Pauline, my dear, I am a humbug myself." ...
— The Revolution in Tanner's Lane • Mark Rutherford

... the world. We owed each other the truth. We know it now; we know where we are. We needn't humbug ourselves and each other any more. You see what comes of keeping back the truth. Look how we've had to pay for it. You and me. Would you rather go on thinking ...
— Anne Severn and the Fieldings • May Sinclair

... merely personal influence restrain him. He cared only for the praise or blame of the understanding few. Whatever the popular judgment, he knew there was a work to be done and that he had power to do it; and this was his personal ambition—to do that work in the world, and to do it without cant and humbug and self-seeking. Such were the aims that, newly returned to England, he confides to the sister who had ever prophesied great things of "her boy"; and in the end he made good the works spoken so boldly, yet surely in no mere spirit of boasting. He "left his mark somewhere, ...
— Thomas Henry Huxley - A Character Sketch • Leonard Huxley

... imploy'd." There is far more encouragement for modern enterprise in Paris than there is in London; and some of his utterances must have rejoiced the soul of his correspondent. As this, for instance—"The humbug virtu is much more out of fashon here than in England, free thinking upon that & other topicks is more common here than amongst you if possible, old pictures & old stories fare's alike, a dark picture is become a damn'd picture." On this account, he inquires anxiously as to the publication ...
— De Libris: Prose and Verse • Austin Dobson

... although those fellows nowadays write a lot of nonsense. When I was in the Diplomatic, things were much better. But I hear they let them in now by examination. What can you expect? Examinations, sir, are pure humbug from beginning to end. If a man is a gentleman, he knows quite enough, and if he is not a gentleman, whatever he ...
— The Picture of Dorian Gray • Oscar Wilde

... Matter. Disproved by its Composite Nature. Disproved by its Motion. Evolution only a big Perpetual Motion Humbug. Work of a Designer in the structure of the Eye. The Eye-Maker sees over a wide Field and far. The Eye-Maker ...
— Fables of Infidelity and Facts of Faith - Being an Examination of the Evidences of Infidelity • Robert Patterson

... the old man, "is it true that you have been a coquette? How! have I been only the foster-father of thy little poet?" "No! No!" replied the enraged mother; "he is all thine own! Console thyself, poor John; thou alone hast been my mate. And who is this 'Pollo, the humbug who has deceived thee so? Yes, I am lame, but when I was washing my linen, if any coxcomb had approached me, I would have hit him on the mouth with a stroke of my mallet!" "Mother," exclaimed the daughter, "'Pollo is only a fool, not worth talking about; where does he live, Jacques?" ...
— Jasmin: Barber, Poet, Philanthropist • Samuel Smiles

... from the hands of that humbug," he said, aloud, as he went to bed, "she is lost. But ...
— The Phantom of the Opera • Gaston Leroux

... together? You are lost to England, I calculate: and I am given over to turnips and inanity. So runs the world away. Well, if I never see you again, I am very very glad I have seen you: and got the idea of a noble fellow all ways into my head. Does this seem like humbug to you? But it is not. And that fine fellow Morton too. Pray write when you can to me: and when my stars shine so happily about my head as they do at this minute, when my blood feels like champagne, I will answer you. ...
— Letters of Edward FitzGerald - in two volumes, Vol. 1 • Edward FitzGerald

... indeed, now and then broke forth; such as odious, horrid, detestable, shocking, HUMBUG. This last new-coined expression, which is only to be found in the nonsensical vocabulary, sounds absurd and disagreeable, whenever it is pronounced; but from the mouth of a lady it is, "shocking, ...
— The Young Gentleman and Lady's Monitor, and English Teacher's Assistant • John Hamilton Moore

... sacramental matter, this filling the ink-well. Is there a writer, however humble, who has not poured into his writing pot, with the ink, some wistful hopes or prayers for what may emerge from that dark source? Is there not some particular reverence due the ink-well, some form of propitiation to humbug the powers of evil and constraint that devil the journalist? Satan hovers near the ink-pot. Luther solved the matter by throwing the well itself at the apparition. That savors to me too much of homeopathy. If Satan ever puts his face over my desk, I shall hurl a volume ...
— Mince Pie • Christopher Darlington Morley

... delicious little humbug," said aunty, laughing. "Now good-night all three of you, and get to bed as fast as you can, as I don't want 'grandmother dear' to scold me for your all being tired and ...
— Grandmother Dear - A Book for Boys and Girls • Mrs. Molesworth

... bewitching an addition to Dandy's circle of admirers. Possibly some years of experience at poker had given him such admirable control of all facial expression as to enable him to disguise the annoyance he really felt. Ray couldn't bear "humbug" in any form, and when horses were the subjects of discussion he was fiercely intolerant of the wise looks and book-inspired remarks of the would-be authorities in the regiment. To his cavalry nature the horse had an affiliation that was simply strong as a friendship. Nothing ...
— Marion's Faith. • Charles King

... with himself. Letty was a well-tempered, faithful girl, honest and conscientious, but not without a considerable relish for humor, and with more than ordinary talents for carrying on either a practical joke or any other piece of harmless humbug, a faculty in which she was ably supported by a fellow-servant of a very different description from Mogue, named Jerry Joyce. Joyce, in fact, was not merely a strong contrast to Mogue, but his very reverse in almost every point of his character. He was open and artless in the opinion of many, almost ...
— The Tithe-Proctor - The Works of William Carleton, Volume Two • William Carleton

... course, he means awfully well,' and after that you may imply that he is the greatest scoundrel unhung. Sir Edmund is not at all ill-natured, and he can discuss people quite simply—not as if he wished to defend his own reputation for charity all the time. He won't allow that Adela Delaport Green is a humbug: he says she is simply a happy combination of extraordinary cleverness and stupidity, of simplicity and art. 'I believe she hardly ever has a consciously disingenuous moment,' he said to me last night. 'She likes clergymen and she likes great ladies, and she likes to make people like her. Of course, ...
— Great Possessions • Mrs. Wilfrid Ward

... they pretend to. A man who sets up for a saint is sure to be a sinner, and a man who boasts that he is a sinner is sure to have some feeble, maudlin, snivelling bit of saintship about him which is enough to make him a humbug. Masculine honesty, whether it be saint-like or sinner-like, does not label itself either saint or sinner. Fancy Saint Augustine labelling himself saint, or Robert Burns sinner; and therefore, though, ...
— Kenelm Chillingly, Complete • Edward Bulwer-Lytton

... to Mugs by a Humbug. That's what it ought to be called. I was looking forward to having a good crack with you the night, but sure a newspaper man need never hope to have ten minutes to himself. I've given Miss Squibb orders to have a good warm supper ready for you. That's a thing the ...
— The Foolish Lovers • St. John G. Ervine

... enjoyment. And it is noticeable that busy men, coming to art for pleasure when they are too weary for looking, listening, or thinking, so often prefer the sensation-novel, the music-hall song, and such painting as is but a costlier kind of oleograph; treating all other art as humbug, and art in general as a trifle wherewith to wile away a lazy moment, a trifle about which every man can ...
— Laurus Nobilis - Chapters on Art and Life • Vernon Lee

... over-reach, or impose; also to steal.—Cant. —Biting was once esteemed a kind of wit, similar to the humbug. An instance of it is given in the Spectator: A man under sentence of death having sold his body to a surgeon rather below the market price, on receiving the money, cried, A bite! I am to be hanged in chains.—To bite the roger; ...
— 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue • Captain Grose et al.

... What a just, clever fellow he was! people said: one of those men improved by success: just to the defrauding of himself: saw the true worth of everybody, the very lowest: hadn't one spark of self-esteem: despised all humbug and show, one could see, though he never said it: when he was a boy, he was moody, with passionate likes and dislikes; but success had improved him, vastly. So Holmes was popular, though the beggars shunned him, ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 09, No. 51, January, 1862 • Various

... the unhighschooled ways Ol' farmers hed when I was younger— Their talk wuz meatier and would stay, While book-froth seems to whet your hunger. For puttin' in a downright lick 'twixt humbug's eyes, there's few can metch it. An' then it helves my thoughts as slick, ez stret grained hickory does ...
— The Last Leaf - Observations, during Seventy-Five Years, of Men and Events in America - and Europe • James Kendall Hosmer

... back among us with his head high in the air, strutting magnificently on his wizen little legs. He embraced his daughter in pathetic silence, and gave me his hand with a serene smile of condescension worthy of the greatest humbug (say Louis the Fourteenth) that ever sat on a throne. When he got the better of his paternal emotion, and began to speak, his voice was so big that I really thought it must have burst him. The vapor of words in which he enveloped himself (condensed on paper) amounted to ...
— Poor Miss Finch • Wilkie Collins

... it was, nevertheless, a violation of a most necessary law. Certainly none of us wish to be doctored by tyros or humbugs, or to have our animals treated by them. Only Danny was neither a tyro nor a humbug, and had he not been a lawbreaker the world would have been to ...
— By Advice of Counsel • Arthur Train

... I'll suddenly discover that He does exist. In that case, Mr. Savva, I thank you, but I'd rather not. Why should I? I live a nice, quiet existence. Of course, it's all a humbug, an imposition. But what business is it of mine? The people want to believe—let them. It ...
— Savva and The Life of Man • Leonid Andreyev

... gleam of light in all the sad landscape, and the abyss seems waiting at my feet to swallow me up with everything that I cherish. It is no use saying to this demon of the darkness that I know he is a humbug, a mere Dismal Jemmy of the brain, who sits there croaking like a night owl or a tenth-rate journalist. My Dismal Jemmy is not to be exorcised by argument. He can only be driven out ...
— Pebbles on the Shore • Alpha of the Plough (Alfred George Gardiner)

... physician here knows nothing of your constitution, while I can soon set you on your feet again. I am sick of the Institute and of Moron-val, and never wish to see either more." Thereupon the doctor launched forth in a philippic against the school which supported him. Moronval was a thorough humbug, he never paid anybody, and every one was giving him up; the affair of Madou had done him great injury; and finally Dr. Hirsch went so far as to compliment ...
— Jack - 1877 • Alphonse Daudet

... given over to robbery, to conquest, to vanity, to ignorance, to humbug, to the worship of ...
— God and my Neighbour • Robert Blatchford

... to take the trouble. All he has to do is to sit there and drink your whisky while you humbug yourself. However, we needn't argue about Haffigan, for two reasons. First, with your money in his pocket he will never reach Paddington: there are too many public houses on the way. Second, he's not an ...
— John Bull's Other Island • George Bernard Shaw

... I rode in a stage-coach in which were two delegates of the Georgia Convention. When I said that I hoped the day would soon come in which school-houses would be as numerous in Georgia as in Massachusetts, one of them answered: "Well, I hope it'll never come,—popular education is all a d—n humbug in my judgment"; whereunto the other responded, "That's my opinion, too." These are exceptional cases, I am aware, but they truly index the situation of thousands of persons. It is this general ignorance, and this ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 17, No. 100, February, 1866 • Various

... the rest of that solemn tomfoolery, were "taught" by the arithmetic teachers in the academies of the eighteenth century, because they are utterly ignorant, and know themselves to be utterly ignorant, of the reality of the subject, and because, therefore, they have to humbug the parent and pass the time by unreal inventions. The case is not a bit better in the higher grade schools. They do not do so much of the bogus teaching of English, but they do ...
— Mankind in the Making • H. G. Wells

... twenty-four hours," he said. "I have looked you up at the first opportunity. Now am I a nuisance? Be frank! I told the servant that if you were at work you weren't to be disturbed. Don't humbug about it; if I am in the ...
— A Chair on The Boulevard • Leonard Merrick

... I shall attend your lecture. Never mind what Mr. Farnaby and Regina say. Regina's poor little conventional soul is shaken, I dare say; you needn't expect to have my niece among your audience. But Farnaby is a humbug, as usual. He affects to be horrified; he talks big about breaking off the match. In his own self, he's bursting with curiosity to know how you will get through with it. I tell you this—he will sneak into the hall and stand at the back where nobody ...
— The Fallen Leaves • Wilkie Collins

... though you describe it in such an inviting manner that I would be tempted to try it, if a hay-cock came in my way; for, upon my life, it's deused heavy work loafing about at these watering-places all summer. Between ourselves, there's a deal of humbug about this kind of life, as you will find, when you've tried it as long as ...
— A Modern Cinderella - or The Little Old Show and Other Stories • Louisa May Alcott

... among the people had certainly thought for a while that the cannon was a humbug, that it was useless either to royalist or to republican, in fact, that it would never go off at all. But these sceptics were cured of their infidelity at Thouars, when they saw the soldiers as well as the republicans ...
— La Vendee • Anthony Trollope

... history as simply the most shameful episode in the English annals. Thinking this, you will not consider my opinion good for anything, and therefore I need not inflict it upon you. Humbugs, however, will explode in the present state of the atmosphere, and the Austrian humbug, for instance, is at last, God be praised for it, exploding. John Bull, I suppose, will work himself into a fine fever about that; but he will think none the worse of the old ladies in Downing Street who are made fools of: and will be none the better disposed to ...
— The Life of Froude • Herbert Paul

... humbug. Where Soosie sit down? Plenty row along white man suppose Soosie no come back. That fella Soosie belonga Missis. Missis very sorry. She bin make'm Soosie ...
— Tropic Days • E. J. Banfield

... any emergency, this remarkable woman instantly handed to me a second and similar volume. "The most precious sermons, Gerard, that have been written in our time." I looked at the book; I opened the book; I recovered my presence of mind, and handed it back. If a female humbug was on one side of the window, a male humbug was on the other. "Please keep it for me till the evening," I said; "I am ...
— The Guilty River • Wilkie Collins

... angry, and, taking Harry with me, went at once to the address the old rascal gave me, a dirty court out of Hanover Street No such person had ever lived there, and my white-haired saint was a humbug. Harry laughed at me, and Mamma forbade me to bring any more thieves to the house, and the girls ...
— A Garland for Girls • Louisa May Alcott

... with her, she went to Dover, and showed them to the ladies and gentlemen. At last one gentleman, a Mr. Ritson, who was rich, and fond of art, said to her, "Don't try to humbug me, little girl. Yon never did this work. Come in, and ...
— The Nursery, Number 164 - A Monthly Magazine for Youngest Readers • Various

... a mock defiance given to Francis Jeffrey, "King of Blue and Yellow," by the facetious Maginn, under his pseudonym of Morgan Odoherty: —"Christopher, by the grace of Brass, Editor of Blackwood's and the Methodist Magazines; Duke of Humbug, of Quiz, Puffery, Cutup, and Slashandhackaway; Prince Paramount of the Gentlemen of the Press, Lord of the Magaziners, and Regent of the Reviewers; Mallet of Whiggery, and Castigator of Cockaigne; Count Palatine of the Periodicals; Marquis of the Holy Poker; Baron of Balaam and Blarney; and Knight ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 11, No. 65, March, 1863 • Various

... best," said Atherley, "was the American one. I really admired old Stamps, and old Stamps admired me; for she knew I thoroughly understood what an unmitigated humbug she was. She had a fine sense of humour, too. How her eyes used to twinkle when I asked posers ...
— Cecilia de Noel • Lanoe Falconer

... better Buddhism than Buddha taught, a broader Christianity than Christ revealed, a deeper Spiritual philosophy than Swedenborg or Davis heralded. Of course we welcome the opening day and its new light and promise, for the old theologies are wearisome emptiness and humbug, and the new isms cold and repellant or insufficient in their testimony. We do not expect that a new church will arise and a new sectarianism follow. But a new conception of life, its origin, purpose and destiny ...
— Buchanan's Journal of Man, December 1887 - Volume 1, Number 11 • Various

... Candor!' said Abel. 'It's your own proposal, Hollins. Suppose it's evil to swear: isn't it better I should express it, and be done with it, than keep it bottled up, to ferment in my mind? Oh, you're a precious, consistent old humbug, you are!' ...
— Humorous Masterpieces from American Literature • Various

... best, to say the least, may be easily imagined. When these fanatics were prevented by the watchers from extracting what little of life was left in the object of their devotions, their indignation took various forms of expression. As a rule they denounced the whole thing as a humbug, and every one participating as frauds. Now and then it became positively necessary, in common decency and self-respect, to show these charlatans the way to the door, notwithstanding their protests that ...
— Buchanan's Journal of Man, February 1887 - Volume 1, Number 1 • Various

... he was able to take. Through all his publications may be traced the marks of the path which half led up to this happy height. His humor has often been the cloak, but not the mask, of a sturdy purpose. His work has been characterized by a manly love of truth, a hatred of humbug, and a scorn for cant. A genial warmth and whole-souledness, a beautiful fancy, a fertile imagination, and a native feeling for the picturesque and a fine eye for color have afforded the basis of a style which has become more and more ...
— Mark Twain, A Biography, 1835-1910, Complete - The Personal And Literary Life Of Samuel Langhorne Clemens • Albert Bigelow Paine

... into syllogisms. If you could not answer him in syllogisms, he conceived that you must be, evidently to yourself, in the wrong, and that obstinacy alone prevented you from owning it. Father Cullen's redeeming point was his earnestness,—his reality; he had no humbug about him; whatever was there, was real; he had no possible appreciation for a joke, and he understood no ridicule. You might gull him, and dupe him for ever, he would never find you out; his heart and mind were full of the Roman Catholic church ...
— The Macdermots of Ballycloran • Anthony Trollope

... saying," resumed the visiter—"as I was observing a little while ago, there are some very outre notions in that book of yours Monsieur Bon-Bon. What, for instance, do you mean by all that humbug about the soul? Pray, sir, what is ...
— The Works of Edgar Allan Poe - Volume 5 (of 5) of the Raven Edition • Edgar Allan Poe

... world our eyes would blind With false pretenses of such a kind, With humbug, cant, or bigotry, Or a specious, sham philosophy, 20 With wrong dressed up in the guise of right, And darkness passing itself for light, Let us imitate John and exclaim with a frown, "The coin is ...
— Story Hour Readings: Seventh Year • E.C. Hartwell

... your possessions, and get them I will, by hook or crook! I couldn't think of robbing you—O no; there might be jail or penal servitude on the back of that; and I won't accept your gifts—good gracious, no! that would involve the loss of self-respect. No, no. Let us humbug each other. I will rob you if I can, and you will rob me if you can, and we'll mutually agree to throw dust in each other's eyes and call it 'play'! Nothing, surely, could be ...
— The Walrus Hunters - A Romance of the Realms of Ice • R.M. Ballantyne

... at the expense of the manager and the public. Sometimes, too, we meet like deposed and exiled kings, talk over the events of our respective reigns; moralize over a tankard of ale, and laugh at the humbug of the great and little world; which, I take it, is the ...
— Tales of a Traveller • Washington Irving

... the land for nothing—you need only sign—have they not done the likes of us often enough? No, my friend, none of your humbug. Nowadays we have a little sense," he added, and began shouting at a ...
— Resurrection • Count Leo Tolstoy

... concluded the business, and early next morning Haydon left for town. 'It is curious,' he comments, 'to have known thus the two great heads of the two great parties, the Duke and Lord Grey. I prefer the Duke infinitely. He is more manly, has no vanity, is not deluded by any flattery or humbug, and is in every way a grander character, though Lord Grey is a fine, amiable, ...
— Little Memoirs of the Nineteenth Century • George Paston



Words linked to "Humbug" :   nonsensicality, shenanigan, dupery, delude, patois, lingo, bunk, vernacular, slang, chicanery, misrepresentation, deception, meaninglessness, twaddle, argot, trickery, chicane, hoax, cant, tommyrot, deceive, cozen, lead on, guile, deceit, hokum, nonsense, jargon, goldbrick, wile



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