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Is it acceptable today to use ‘malarkey’ to describe an idea that is nonsensical?

Or are there better terms to use?

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  • Although I know 'nonsense' is the standard definition, I've always had the impression that it's used more as a synonym of fuss or brouhaha in England, where I've heard it a lot over the years. Can any English people back me up on this?
    – legatrix
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 7:59
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    @legatrix Cambridge defines it as 'silly behaviour or nonsense'. I agree with you that I think of it as referring to pointless activity rather than spoken nonsense. Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 9:13
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    @legatrix - it's more used for pointless or time wasting activity, e.g. I wanted to own an elephant but I found out I had to complete a lot of forms and buy a wildlife licence, and I couldn't be bothered with all that malarkey. Not really fuss or brouhaha. Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 9:18
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    Research - "I love the flavours of a Bakewell tart, but I really can't be bothered to faff around with making pastry and baking it blind and all that malarkey" - June 2020 Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 10:29
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    @mdewey - considering the ease of researching this, the question is borderline close-votable for lack of research, or if the query is whether it is acceptable 'today', likewise for being opinion-based. I have, however, provided an answer. Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 11:59

3 Answers 3

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According to Ngram Viewer statistics, the word malarkey becomes more popular through years, however, I would recommend that you use other more common synonyms like hogwash or claptrap (if you do not want to use nonsense as the most obvious description):

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  • I am afraid it is not a synonym of either of them at least in its common use in the UK so the relative frequencies are slightly misleading.
    – mdewey
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 11:13
  • @mdewey In question was stated, that the word should mean an idea that is nonsensical. For this meaning all words on the chart are suitable. Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 11:19
  • If the OP wants a synonym for malarkey then rigmarole or taradiddle would be better.
    – mdewey
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 17:11
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Joe Biden seems to use it pretty regularly. It's not a common word, but one that is widely understood. It has a feel of being playfully old-fashioned.

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The word 'malarkey' (less common, and mainly US, 'malarky') is common in British English, as used in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, etc, and is used by Americans including Joe Biden recently. It is often used to discuss something considered nonsensical, pointless or a waste of time

I wanted to own an elephant but I found out I had to complete a lot of forms and buy a wildlife licence, and I couldn't be bothered with all that malarkey.

I love the flavours of a Bakewell tart, but I really can't be bothered to faff around with making pastry and baking it blind and all that malarkey.

He thinks that everything politicians say is a bunch of malarkey.

I like the socializing but I can't be bothered with dressing up and all that malarkey.

Malarkey (Lexico)

Malarkey (Merriam-Webster)

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