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“Bullshit” is often a slang verb used when writing essays to mean that you are writing things without much deep thought or care.

I'm looking for a more formal definition of the word “Bullshit”. I need something that means the same thing as “to Bullshit” but for a more formal setting.

That actual use-case is that I’m trying to tell a professor in a teacher evaluation that “it’s not an easy class where you can just bullshit your way through it”, but I want to use a more formal synonym and something less explicit/slang-like.

Thanks

  • The title of your question doesn't match the body. Also, please at least show you did some research (although bullshit doesn't appear to be recognised widely as a verb). – Andrew Leach Jul 12 '18 at 6:13
  • It’s a more of a slang word than a formal definition. I’m not exactly clear what you would have me research. – Cameron Jul 12 '18 at 6:30
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    "Go through the motions" "fake it" "dial it in" "parrot back your talking points without internalizing them" – user662852 Jul 12 '18 at 11:51
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    Having read many, many student evaluations of faculty, I would say "bullshit" is just fine, and probably more precise than any one- or two-word synonym you're going to find. (Assuming you mean the anonymous evaluations you fill out at the end of a class, rather than, say, a formal letter of recommendation that your prof will use for employment purposes. Also assuming you don't attend a school with unusually strict standards on language.) – 1006a Jul 12 '18 at 16:49
  • @1006a that's exactly the problem unfortunately. I go to BYU-Idaho, so the standards and expectations for clean language are a little higher than a lot of other schools. – Cameron Jul 12 '18 at 23:58
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This isn't a course where you can just wing it. You have to be fully prepared; you can't wing it/ fly by the seat of your pants, you can't make it up on the fly/ or perhaps "you can't make it up as you go."

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I want to use a more formal synonym and something less explicit/slang-like.

I think this is the key to your question which, in other readings, is more likely to just provide synonymous slang terms.

"It’s not an easy class where you can just bullshit your way through it.”

So, you want this rephrased in a more intellectual or academic sense.

Try:

"It's not an easy class where you can get away with making unsubstantiated claims."

Merriam-Webster provides this definition of unsubstantiated:

: not proven to be true : not substantiated · an unsubstantiated rumor/report · a plausible but unsubstantiated theory

[In contrast to substantiated.]

1 : to give substance or form to : embody
2 : to establish by proof or competent evidence : verify · substantiate a charge

It also provides this definition of claim:

1 : a demand for something due or believed to be due · an insurance claim

She makes the claim that sea levels will actually go down.
He made false claims about his past job experience.

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It depends on how you're bullshitting, the manner in which you're going about it. There are myriad ways to bullshit.

Here are a few possibilities:

You could say that you're "dissembling," giving a false or misleading impression to conceal the truth or the real nature of the situation, which is that you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

You could say that you're "quibbling," using ambiguous, prevaricating, or irrelevant language or arguments to evade a point at issue or making any clear point at all, which is common with bullshitting because you don't want to commit to a point because it could be wrong and get you marked down.

You could say that you're "verbigerating," a backformation of "verbigeration," the act of constantly repeating meaningless words or phrases.

You could say that you're "making it up as you go along," which isn't very fancy but isn't informal, either, and is how a professor of mine would have said it if they didn't want to curse by saying I was bullshitting.

You could say that you're "fabricating" the paper, which is a more concise way of saying "making it up."

You could say that you're "perseverating," repeating stuff and being redundant just to add to the length.

You could say that you're "being sesquipedalian loquacious," using big words to say very little in a lot of words, hoping to give the impression you are saying a lot.

You could say that you're "pleonastically palavering," which is speaking profusely in a manner that flatters, persuades, or cajoles while at the same time stretching it out by using as many words as you can.

And now the coup de grace:

You could say that you're "floccinaucinihilipilificating," a backformation of the noun "floccinaucinihilipilification," which is the act of assigning something extremely little or no value, which is what you're doing to both your words and to the assignment itself.

The word "floccinaucinihilipilification" was coined by some boys at Eton College in England after teachers went on about the "honorificabilitudinitatibus" (which is the longest word Shakespeare ever used) of Shakespeare's works, indicating his works were worthy of many awards and highest honors, and a group of boys at Eton who didn't agree, who thought Shakespeare's work was bullshit by a bullshitter, coined the word "floccinaucinihilipilification" as an even longer word than "honorificabilitudinitatibus" to express that opposite idea, to deem it all to be worthless bullshit.

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