Mark Peters's new book plopped onto bookstore shelves yesterday, and it's full of BS.
Bullshit: A Lexicon explores the vocabulary of prattle, twaddle, and gobshite in all its forms. As the author states, “The lingo of bullshit is earthy, silly, bonkers, and fun. And (at the risk of mansplaining) it's a lot bigger than you think.”
In this literary load of doo-doo, Peters not only catalogues over two hundred words for balderdash, bloviation, and the purveyors of hot air, but he also gives us etymological background for each as well as historical examples of the words and phrases being used.
And the examples, like the words themselves, come from all over. BS is everywhere, and the names given to it come from everywhere, too. In Bullshit: A Lexicon, you'll find names for hooey from the United States (Bull Durham), Great Britain (Bovril), and Australia (Flemington confetti); from land (stump water), sea (gurry), and air (bird turd); and from our long-gone past (jargon has been around since the 1300s) to centuries into our science-fiction future (felgercarb from Battlestar Galactica, crapspackle from Futurama).
But even though horse apples litter the paths of all walks of life, Peters notes that some areas seem more primed to add to this lexicon of casuistry. A majority of the terms revealed this book come from zoological sources (hogwash, horsefeathers), food and drink (applesauce, macaroni), politics (bunkum, bushlips), or reduplication (fiddle-faddle, hocus pocus).
Peters explores this varied world of meadow muffins and donkey dust with the same humor that gave us @wordlust, @cnnyourmom, and some other of his irreverent Twitterings. And New Yorker cartoonist Drew Dernavich's whimsical illustrations are the perfect complement.
So whether you're looking for the perfect word to describe a philosophunculist's psilologizing or some ratchet mouth's rannygazoo, you'll find it in Mark Peters's Bullshit: A Lexicon. It's a great addition to any word-lover's library, fitting perfectly — both alphabetically and topically — between Peter Meltzer's The Thinker's Thesaurus and Jesse Sheidlower's The F Word.
Mark Peters is a humorist, journalist, and member of the American Dialect Society. His articles on language have appeared in Esquire, Forbes, Mental Floss, Slate, and the Columbia Journalism Review. He writes the Evasive Maneuvers column (about euphemisms) for the Visual Thesaurus, the Best Joke Ever column for McSweeney's, and the Laughing Stock blog for Psychology Today. You can get a load of him and his new book at BullshitLexicon.com.