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Definition: confusing or generally unintelligible jargon

Pronunciation:  baf-uhl-gab


Bafflegab, which is technically a slang word, was invented by a man that I have a little bit of a word crush on right now; Milton A. Smith was the assistant general of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1954. Fed up with the “…complexity and ambiguity of government regulations” Smith decided to come up with an appropriate word to describe what he put up with everyday. Apparently this word was designed solely for Washington bureaucrats, although I recently switched cable companies and found plenty of opportunities to use it while dealing with their corporate offices.

Probably the best part of this word is how it was first introduced to the public. In the official presentation, Milton Smith was asked to briefly define his word. It was, he said succinctly, “multiloquence characterized by consummate interfusion of circumlocution or periphrasis, inscrutability, and other familiar manifestations of abstruse expatiation commonly utilized for promulgations implementing Procrustean determinations by governmental bodies.”    The definition of bafflegab through the use of bafflegab. I love this man.

Why this word?

If I had to narrow down my favorite thing about words, it would probably be words that sound exactly like what they are. For example: The word Cluck. We all know that chickens go around spitting out more “bucks” than the U.S. Mint, so to call that sound a “Cluck”, a word that rhymes with its’ act, is appropriate not only in relation to sound but also in the goofy-ness of the word and chickens in general. (While we’re at it, Chicken, Frog and Booger are all funny words for that same reason).

Bafflegab is so perfectly coined to its’ meaning that it gives me exultant shivers.

Baffle means to frustrate or confound, while Gab means to talk or chat idly. So this word literally means to chat in confounding words.

Bafflegab has an authentic and legal ring to it, with subtle undertones of reproach and humor. It is, I believe, the perfect counterbalance to the small print that always annoys and confounds us.

Also, just to sweeten the pot, Merriam defines this word as “Gobbledygook”. Glorious.

How to use bafflegab in a sentence?

“I’m sure that corporate meeting had a point, but it just sounded like so much bafflegab to me.”


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Written by Tiffany Reeves

Tiffany is a full time reader in Burbank California. She can most frequently be
found reading on her porch or snuggling with her dog, Socrates. Visit her blog at


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