Is there a word for a thing that doesn't make sense, a shiny alternative to 'nonsense'?

I want to use it like: <-new-word>> politics, meaning stupid, nonsense politics.

Update: by 'shiny' I mean't non-vulgar, non-tongue-twister word.

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    "thoughtless" may fit, but it is quite common. In the sense of politics characterized by grotesqueness or extravagance, consider "baroque".
    – Graffito
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 12:47
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    What does shiny mean here?
    – tchrist
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 15:31
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    It might depend on the context. In my field (computer science and IT) a think that doesn't make sense is sometimes referred as "Windows". ;) Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 16:46
  • @Andrea Lazzarotto The OP said "shiny" :) Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 17:47
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    Questions are expected to provide detail and context to make it easier for other users to write good answers. Your question gives some context (the phrase "___ politics"), but as others have mentioned, it's not totally clear what you mean by "shiny" or what your criteria are for accepting an answer (does the term have to be obscure?). Please edit your question after looking over the question checklist for single word requests.
    – herisson
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 21:17

16 Answers 16


Depending on what you want with shiny, rare words with funny pronunciation and euphemisms could be used. With a rare word, the listener might feel less verbal violence than with a mere "crap". I suggest hokum:

a euphemism for nonsense (from Wiki disambiguation); Something apparently impressive or legitimate but actually untrue or insincere; nonsense (urban dictionary)

or folderal (alternative writings: folderol, falderal), which has an ornamental property (shiny enough?):

nonsense, ornamental objects of no great value (Merriam Webster), from a nonsensical line in old ballads

Finally, in France, abracadabrantesque was almost forgotten, and was resurrected during a political interview. The word comes from authors and poets Mario Proth, Théophile Gautier and Arthur Rimbaud. It looks like poetry, and it is, so maybe more acceptable. It refers to magic (same root as abracadabra) turned into an adjective and superlative. This word was almost forgotten for a century. Then, a former president used it in an interview (Chirac ou l'histoire abracadabrantesque). The journalist wanted to bring a question on a posthumous testimony about his alleged frauds. He used this word to characterize the whole story as "utter nonsense", suggesting it was made-up. The forgotten word has now come to use for the pleasure of many, especially journalists.

Here are some uses for the words above, mainly webpage titles. Opinions are not mine:

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    In English, the closest phrase to abracadabrantesque might be mumbo jumbo, which means nonsense with overtones of (ridiculously) magical thinking. Note, though, that the phrase's origins are somewhat problematic.
    – 1006a
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 2:40
  • @1006a Do you know of uses of "mumbo jumbo" (despite problematic origin) in such a context? Apparently, some online sources suggest "preposterous" Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 7:52
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    Confusing and nonsensical: From an opinion piece titled "Millennial Marketing Mumbo Jumbo": 'Apparently, if you can string a few words together and sprinkle in some business buzzwords here and there, you can get your post published on the Forbes site. Don’t worry, coherency isn’t even a prerequisite for getting your piece accepted.' thefinancialbrand.com/47276/millennial-marketing-mumbo-jumbo
    – 1006a
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 14:26
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    Foolishly superstitious: (a Baptist minister, describing his attempt to "witness" to a nonbeliever) 'But at that point Jack interrupted. “I don’t believe any of that rubbish about the Bible’, he said. ‘It’s just a lot of mumbo-jumbo made up by people long ago..”' gbcstockport.org.uk/manse/mumbo-jumbo?wpmp_switcher=desktop
    – 1006a
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 14:27
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    Also, examples of "political mumbo jumbo" as a phrase: google.com/… There are also usages of "Mumbo-jumbo politics", but this formulation is more common. (Feel free to use or not any of this.)
    – 1006a
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 15:00

There’s a word for that I’ve recently learned: malarkey (Merriam-Webster):

: foolish words or ideas : insincere or foolish talk

[M-W example:] He thinks everything politicians say is just a bunch of malarkey.

It’s an uncommonly used word: Google Books Ngram shows it used at 0.5% the frequency of nonsense. I you want something stronger and newer you can go for bullarkey. You don’t find it in conventional dictionaries, so we need the Urban dictionary here:

Total and complete nonsense; full of contradictions and completely ludicrous

“After the debate, the crowd felt the last politican's statement was complete bullarky and he had no right to run.”

  • 1
    ha! now that's a very (vice-)presidential saying right there...
    – GoHokies
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 19:38
  • 🎱Crazy uncle joes favorite word 🍺🍺🍺
    – Kris
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 0:31
  • @Kris can you look into the future?
    – JJJ
    Commented Dec 3, 2019 at 8:18

"Nonsensical" would be the exact word you're describing, and I can't wrap my head around why you want to use something else instead.



  1. (of words or language) having little or no meaning; making little or no sense: A baby's babbling is appealingly nonsensical.

  2. (of behavior, conduct, actions, etc.) foolish, senseless, fatuous, or absurd: His nonsensical behavior was unusual for such a serious person.


How about absurdity or farce politics?

From Merriam-Webster:

absurdity: the quality or state of being absurd

absurd: extremely silly, foolish, or unreasonable : completely ridiculous

farce: something that is so bad that it is seen as ridiculous

The OP's example:

absurdity politics, meaning stupid, nonsense politics

farce politics, meaning stupid, nonsense politics.

Absurdity politics has the nice feature that it parallels and conjures identity politics.


In terms of shiny words, I bet you could get away with hoopla or ballyhoo (which mean roughly the same thing. Look at froufrou or gobbledygook, too. Those are bright and nice. I suspect froufrou might be the one you want, due to the "ostentatious decoration" meaning. It's going to depend on what you're describing as nonsense, really.

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    At least in French, frou-frou seems more akin to showy, futile, than nonsense Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 12:50

Jibberish politics?

unintelligible or meaningless speech or writing; nonsense.



noun, usually vulgar nonsense; especially: foolish insolent talk

"Don't bullshit me. Tell me the truth!"
"Stop bullshitting and tell me the truth."


pointless (oxforddictionaries.com)


Having little or no sense, use, or purpose:

speculating like this is a pointless exercise

[WITH INFINITIVE]: it’s pointless to plan too far ahead

More example sentences:

It beggars belief how anyone with any sense could buy this pointless drivel.

Whichever way you cut it, it's still too often a pointless exercise for anyone writing for the consumer press.

It's a pointless exercise in negativity by both the Labor Party and the Democrats.


How about balderdash?

  1. senseless, stupid, or exaggerated talk or writing; nonsense. [Dictionary.com]

A description determined to be so fitting for deception and absurdity that a common board game took its name.


An answer that checks all your criteria, both including nonsense in the definition, and specifically alluding to politics, are the pair of bunk (the 2nd word listing)

noun, Informal.
1. Humbug; nonsense.

or its original form, bunkum or buncombe:

1. Insincere speechmaking by a politician intended merely to please local constituents.
2. Insincere talk; claptrap; humbug.

a word actually derived from the political grandstanding by a particular politician in the 1800s.


A non-sequitur is a conclusion that does not logically follow from the premises. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_sequitur_%28logic%29


I don't know if preposterous qualifies as a shiny word as it's not new, but I like the alliterative sound of 'preposterous politics'


formal ​very silly or stupid:

Cambridge Dictionary

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    I suspect the OP was using "shiny" not meaning new (like a shiny penny) but as a popular loan-word from the TV show Firefly, where it is taken to mean "good or valuable; 'cool'" (firefly.wikia.com/wiki/Dictionary)
    – flith
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 19:34

I don’t understand exactly what you’re looking for (we’re still waiting for an explanation of “shiny”), but:

in 1980, then-presidential candidate George H. W. Bush referred to Ronald Reagan’s economic (a.k.a. “Reaganomics”) as “voodoo economics”.

[Collins Dictionary] defines voodoo as


    a religious cult involving witchcraft and communication by trance with ancestors and animistic deities, common in Haiti and other Caribbean islands


    relating to or associated with voodoo

so Bush was saying that Reaganomics was related to witchcraft, and not sound theories and practices.


Garbage has multiple definitions that fit well (from Dictionary.com):

  1. Anything that is contemptibly worthless, inferior, or vile:
    [There's nothing but garbage on TV tonight.]
  2. Worthless talk; lies; foolishness.
  3. Slang. Any unnecessary item added to something else, as for appearance only; garnish:

Specious has the meaning of "superficially pleasing" (i.e., shiny) but actually false:

1. apparently good or right though lacking real merit; superficially pleasing or plausible: specious arguments.

2. pleasing to the eye but deceptive.


If the thing that you are describing attempts to appear to make sense by following the form of something that actually does make sense, then the word is "pseudo". This is usually used as a prefix or a hyphenated prefix, though, rather than a separated word. Examples: pseudo-science, pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-post-modernism. Okay, I made up the last one.

I'm afraid, though, that most people would consider "pseudo-political" to be redundant. Kind of like "pseudo-economics", since some people assert that economics itself is pseudo-science.

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    If you like pseudo-, but prefer something more obscure,  consider ersatz (made or used as a substitute, typically an inferior one, for something else). Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 0:21

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