Definition of boondoggle in US English:



North American
  • 1Work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value.

    ‘writing off the cold fusion phenomenon as a boondoggle best buried in literature’
    • ‘But in the view of serious energy policy experts, the project bears all the hallmarks of a boondoggle.’
    • ‘Aren't these live horseracing broadcasts boondoggles?’
    • ‘But to interview, over five years, 425 people, some of them scarcely or not at all relevant to the ostensible topic, smells of academic boondoggle to me.’
    • ‘That's the time-off we manage to squeeze in during the business boondoggles to the Caribbean, or the hours not spent checking in via e-mail or cell phone.’
    • ‘The governor has become Santa Claus for every legislator with visions of boondoggles dancing in their heads.’
    • ‘Their license area continues to be under attack as a political or ethnic boondoggle.’
    • ‘The supervisors' broadband/cable/phone proposal is a more straightforward boondoggle, involving massive new pipe laying during a sewer dig.’
    • ‘As you may guess I am no fan of corporate-welfare boondoggles, but I hope that the provision to extend Daylight Savings Time survives to become law.’
    • ‘Sam knew how to prevent an opportunity like this from turning into a boondoggle for some official's family and friends.’
    • ‘Another boondoggle for the rich to jet somewhere exotic to gush over their concern for the poor.’
    • ‘So why buy more of what looks like one of the great military boondoggles?’
    • ‘This has been a boondoggle and a PR sham that pays utilities to build more dirty plants while claiming to be coming clean.’
    • ‘Given the colorful history of federal boondoggles - billion-dollar weapons systems that misfire, $600 toilet seats - that's an understandable concern.’
    • ‘Private healthcare is a huge boondoggle for insurance companies and related industries who have enormous influence over both political parties.’
    • ‘The program is incorrigible; once a boondoggle, always a boondoggle.’
    • ‘But guess whom they blame for the whole boondoggle?’
    • ‘The PQ was especially given to swallowing corporate dogma whole, as evidenced by their mammoth funding of the short-lived ‘multimedia boom’ and other boondoggles.’
    • ‘Will the blackout prove to be a boon or a boondoggle for business owners?’
    • ‘He probably ends up working on some military boondoggle somewhere.’
    • ‘It's an absolute boondoggle, but I'm bringing it back.’
    • ‘And highfliers with thriving core businesses pump capital into excess capacity or real estate boondoggles - or siphon funds into private projects.’
    deception, trick, cheat, hoax, subterfuge, stratagem, wile, ruse, artifice, swindle, racket
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A public project of questionable merit that typically involves political patronage and graft.
      ‘they each drew $600,000 in the final months of the great boondoggle’
      • ‘Time to name your favorite government boondoggle, the biggest waste of time and money, which gets your goat!’
      • ‘The city's troubled street-paving project will turn out to be its next municipal boondoggle.’
      • ‘History will show this to be the biggest boondoggle in US history.’
      • ‘It has been said that governments are shadows cast by business over the people - so why are we surprised at the Liberal Party's boondoggle?’
      • ‘Yet the fact remains, that's what's truly needed to document ineffective practices, or outright fraud, in this unaccountable, taxpayer-funded boondoggle.’
      • ‘Conversely, many people along Florida's lower east coast believed that Everglades reclamation was an unnecessary boondoggle.’
      • ‘Throw in politics and you have a boondoggle in the making.’
      • ‘His argument overcame critics who said the project was a Big Brother boondoggle not worth its 3 billion pound cost.’
      • ‘A gift-wrapped boondoggle letting them buy our public lands containing billions-of-dollars worth of precious metals.’
      • ‘Reallocate road taxes away from wasteful boondoggles?’
      • ‘As I have come to understand how the world really works, I am not surprised at this boondoggle.’
      • ‘You can't improve their lot by aid if the aid money flows into Swiss bank accounts or monumental boondoggle infrastructure projects.’
      • ‘You may be right that it all went in boondoggles.’
      • ‘They are not crazy, these public boondoggle people.’
      • ‘Yet all this saving, much of which goes into government bonds for boondoggle construction projects with a negative net return, is killing their economy.’
      • ‘We need to return to vigorously fighting the development of this pricey boondoggle.’
      • ‘The project to protect the United States from ballistic missile attack is one of the great boondoggles of all time.’
      • ‘The feds are willing to pay for this particular boondoggle.’
      • ‘Congress balked at funding this boondoggle, and the program collapsed with nothing accomplished and close to a billion dollars of the taxpayer's money down the drain.’
      • ‘Their experts and bureaucrats would supposedly do a more professional job of confiscating our money and throwing it down the rat holes of political boondoggles.’
      • ‘Nor is it the opportunities they will create for colossal boondoggles by government contractors.’


[no object]North American
  • Waste money or time on unnecessary or questionable projects.

    • ‘I boondoggle, I dilly-dally, I hang fire; but now it's time, I delay no longer.’
    • ‘Governments, if allowed, will continue to boondoggle along unless there are lawful reforms in place to prevent it.’
    • ‘If people were actually aware of how they're being boondoggled, we might get somewhere.’
    • ‘Now hopelessly swamped in scandal and corruption, high taxes, firearms boondoggle, sponsorship scandal, etc, they are again using bribery as their last resort.’
    • ‘His official budget even featured a photo of a wind-powered ice sled - an example of the alleged boondoggles he said he would no longer tolerate.’
    • ‘He is a trusted member of the CEO brotherhood, and he never met a military boondoggle he wouldn't hug.’
    • ‘But no talk of mismanagement - no talk of the boondoggling earlier this year that wiped out the bulk of the budget buffer in underwriting petrol prices.’
    • ‘The Rangers are still paying the San Diego Padres for taking that boondoggle off their hands.’
    • ‘Broadcast and telecom monopolists' message comes in loud and clear for boondoggled employees.’
    • ‘Hopefully you can boondoggle your way till the end of the day.’
    • ‘Charmed by his obliqueness - ‘doing’ and ‘getting’ as euphemisms for fundraising and boondoggling - I told him the name of my book.’
    • ‘Yet, despite being a harsh critic of the boondoggling ways of the administration, he has been more than tolerated by the powers that be.’


1930s: of unknown origin.