Please don't answer that bamboozle is spoken in GB and hornswoogle in US. Many times i have heard hornswoogle spoken at the US East Coast. Is it possible that both means the same but hornwoogle is modern languages and gentler? Thanks

  • 1
    I'm a monolingual native speaker of English, and I have literally never heard either of these words used (in earnest, i.e. seriously and not ironically or otherwise self-consciously) in my entire life. In fact, the last I remember hearing either is from the ancient Looney Tunes / Merry Melodies cartoons, from the likes of Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn (caricatures of Texans and Antebellum Southern Gentlemen, respectively).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 14:57
  • Hornswoggle, hornswoogle, hornwoogle? Are you trying to bamboozle us? What do the dictionary definitions tell you about the difference between the words?
    – Spagirl
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 17:46
  • @DanBron there's a Spike Lee movie m.imdb.com/title/tt0215545
    – user662852
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 2:37
  • I've certainly heard and used both terms (in the US), though "bamboozle" is far more likely to be fired in anger than "hornswoggle". I might easily say, eg, "It looks like Trump might bamboozle his way into the White House." I usually reserve "hornswoggle" for more convoluted scenarios.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 23:15

1 Answer 1


Both terms mean about the same thing.

They mean to deceive or cheat. Additionally, Bamboozle has also been used to mean being drunk to the point of confusion.

Bamboozle has earlier usage by about 150 years (1700 vs 1850).

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