Definition of boondoggle in 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’
    • ‘And highfliers with thriving core businesses pump capital into excess capacity or real estate boondoggles - or siphon funds into private projects.’
    • ‘Will the blackout prove to be a boon or a boondoggle for business owners?’
    • ‘He probably ends up working on some military boondoggle somewhere.’
    • ‘The program is incorrigible; once a boondoggle, always a boondoggle.’
    • ‘Aren't these live horseracing broadcasts boondoggles?’
    • ‘So why buy more of what looks like one of the great military boondoggles?’
    • ‘Private healthcare is a huge boondoggle for insurance companies and related industries who have enormous influence over both political parties.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Given the colorful history of federal boondoggles - billion-dollar weapons systems that misfire, $600 toilet seats - that's an understandable concern.’
    • ‘But in the view of serious energy policy experts, the project bears all the hallmarks of a boondoggle.’
    • ‘The governor has become Santa Claus for every legislator with visions of boondoggles dancing in their heads.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sam knew how to prevent an opportunity like this from turning into a boondoggle for some official's family and friends.’
    • ‘The supervisors' broadband/cable/phone proposal is a more straightforward boondoggle, involving massive new pipe laying during a sewer dig.’
    • ‘Their license area continues to be under attack as a political or ethnic boondoggle.’
    • ‘This has been a boondoggle and a PR sham that pays utilities to build more dirty plants while claiming to be coming clean.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But guess whom they blame for the whole boondoggle?’
    • ‘It's an absolute boondoggle, but I'm bringing it back.’
    • ‘Another boondoggle for the rich to jet somewhere exotic to gush over their concern for the poor.’
    deception, trick, cheat, hoax, subterfuge, stratagem, wile, ruse, artifice, swindle, racket
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A 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’
      • ‘The city's troubled street-paving project will turn out to be its next municipal boondoggle.’
      • ‘You can't improve their lot by aid if the aid money flows into Swiss bank accounts or monumental boondoggle infrastructure projects.’
      • ‘A gift-wrapped boondoggle letting them buy our public lands containing billions-of-dollars worth of precious metals.’
      • ‘The feds are willing to pay for this particular boondoggle.’
      • ‘The project to protect the United States from ballistic missile attack is one of the great boondoggles of all time.’
      • ‘Reallocate road taxes away from wasteful boondoggles?’
      • ‘Yet the fact remains, that's what's truly needed to document ineffective practices, or outright fraud, in this unaccountable, taxpayer-funded boondoggle.’
      • ‘Time to name your favorite government boondoggle, the biggest waste of time and money, which gets your goat!’
      • ‘History will show this to be the biggest boondoggle in US history.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As I have come to understand how the world really works, I am not surprised at this 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.’
      • ‘Conversely, many people along Florida's lower east coast believed that Everglades reclamation was an unnecessary boondoggle.’
      • ‘You may be right that it all went in boondoggles.’
      • ‘They are not crazy, these public boondoggle people.’
      • ‘We need to return to vigorously fighting the development of this pricey boondoggle.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Yet all this saving, much of which goes into government bonds for boondoggle construction projects with a negative net return, is killing their economy.’


[NO OBJECT]North American
  • Waste money or time on unnecessary or questionable projects.

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


1930s: of unknown origin.