English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Re-watching old episodes of the X-Files. In which Agent Mulder says: (paraphrasing)

just pseudo-science used to make political book

(Transcript here)

(FYI The Episode was written by Mat Beck)

I can infer that it means, to add (false) weight to a political agenda or argument. (ie. making it a safer bet.)

I recall hearing the phrase before, sounds like a Hunter S Thompson, or beat era style phrase, but I'm unable to find any reference to it.

Can anyone help with definite meaning and/or etymology?

Edit: Please don't offer conjecture, I can guess all by myself.

share|improve this question
Are you sure it isn't "make a political book" or "make political books"? – J.R. Jan 7 '13 at 8:46
@J.R. It's definitely "make political book" – Matt E. Эллен Jan 7 '13 at 9:04
Thank you for adding the transcript. – Slomojo Jan 7 '13 at 11:38
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Book making means taking bets. The term bookmaker in this sense, according to etymonline, is first found in 1862 and originates from the literal sense of making a book.

If you are a book maker then you set the odds on the things being gambled on. What Mulder means is that the pseudo-science is being used to fix the odds of certain things happening in politics.

share|improve this answer
I believe what you mean to say is "What I think Mulder means is..." – Slomojo Jan 7 '13 at 11:35
Nope, that's not what I mean to say. – Matt E. Эллен Jan 7 '13 at 11:38
Plausible enough. – Slomojo Jan 7 '13 at 11:45

As much as I love the X-Files, I'm afraid Mulder is misusing the phrase here.

To "make book" is a back-formation from "bookmaker"; it means "to take bets".

I believe Mulder is mixing it up with "to score (political) points"; there's an easy association of ideas (one might keep score in a book; in fact, a bookmaker might keep score!) "To make political book" is not, however, a usually-accepted phrase.

share|improve this answer
I know the phrase to "make book", it doesn't quite feel the same as the way it's phrased in the X-Files. Perhaps Mat Beck is creatively mixing his metaphors. – Slomojo Jan 7 '13 at 11:37

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.