This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. See our privacy statement
World Wide Words logo


Pronounced /ˈbɔːldʌktəm/Help with IPA

It means a farrago of words, trash or balderdash. The link in meaning and form between balderdash and balductum is close enough that some writers have tentatively suggested that the former derives from or was influenced in its creation by the latter.

Both started life having food implications, with balderdash being a jumbled miUture of liquids, such as milk and beer. Balductum was a type of posset, hot milk curdled with ale or wine. But while we have no idea where balderdash comes from (the supposed link between the two words not being supported by the experts these days), we do know that balductum is from Latin balducta, the curds of milk.

Balductum took on its derived and derogatory sense of worthless speech around the time of Shakespeare, the better part of a century before balderdash acquired the same overtones. But balductum never gained the popularity of balderdash and seems to have gone out of use in the seventeenth century.

Page created 28 Jul. 2007

Support World Wide Words.

Donate by selecting your currency and clicking the button.

Buy anything from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you.

Buy from Amazon UK Buy from Amazon USA

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved. See the copyright page for notes about linking to and reusing this page. For help in viewing the site, see the technical FAQ. Your comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
This page URL:
Last modified: 28 July 2007.