Thursday, February 18, 2016

A New Old Word for the Political Season: bomfog

Yesterday, in honor of Presidents' Day but two days late, I published "Presidential Coinages" at With a lot of help from Paul Dickson's book Words from the White House: Words and Phrases Coined or Popularized by America's Presidents, I highlighted eleven words that had been coined by U.S. presidents.

One other new (to me) word from Dickson's book really caught my eye. I left it out of yesterday's post because it wasn't coined by a president but because of a presidential contender. I think it's the perfect old word (though not that old) that we can and should make new again in the current political season.

That word is bomfog

English: Official photograph portrait of forme...
"I never said 'strategery.'"(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dickson writes that bomfog is an acronym for "Brotherhood Of Man, Fatherhood Of God" and was created by journalists to describe "the pious, homily-ridden blather of politicians." One researcher dates its coinage back to the 1960s presidential campaigns of Nelson Rockefeller, who, it seemed, liked to wrap up his campaign speeches with talk of this brotherhood and fatherhood, signalling to journalists that it was time to start making their way back to their news vans.

Regardless of where the word comes from, I think we should bring back the word bomfog and its companion, bomfoggery, for two reasons.

For one, we could use a succinct label for candidates' ideological statements that barely hide their belief that American values are identical to conservative Christian values, and that anyone who doesn't live by these conservative Christian American values can just find a nice little place of their own on the other side of this great big wall we're building.

The second reason is that I just like the sound and feel of these words. They echo both  bumfuck and buggery, making clear their connotations, and that fog is certainly descriptive of what so many people think political puffery and equivocation is intended to do. Indeed, bomfog sounds almost like bumfog, a perfect word to describe politicians blowing smoke up our asses.

I'm sure some candidate will give us the next version of refudiate, misunderestimate, or embetter soon enough — hell, we've already gotten "Bernie Sandwich" — but why should the politicians and pundits have all the fun?

Fight bomfog now!