I wrote this morning to an impending victim of my presence today at a writers’ lunch meeting that I would rather simply be part of the circle than to hold forth with my own personal bloviation.
Then I got to wondering about the word bloviation. What could the root possibly be? It sounded neither latin or greek.
Turns out, it’s not a new word, but has been picked up and tossed around via the web so it has been dusted off from the bin of history and found more than its share of speakers and writers to whom it might apply. I try not to be counted among them.
The term was coined around 1879, a mock-latinized form of the word blow, meaning in this case, to boast, described as follows:
To bloviate (pronounced BLOW-vee-ayt) is to speak or write overexpansively or with undue grandiosity. It suggests a derivation from to blow, meaning to boast. The term has gained some currency through distribution over Web chat forums and on Web sites. American writer H. L. Mencken, always bordering on bloviation himself, described a less interesting bloviator, President Warren G. Harding (and I love this, read aloud, with indignant contempt in a most bloviating, pompous tone of voice):
“He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abyss of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash.”
I suppose a close relative would be the new word, coined just this instant (far as I know):
Of which I am at times guilty as charged. And will hush.