Definition of humbug in US English:

humbug

nounPlural humbugs

  • 1Deceptive or false talk or behavior.

    ‘his comments are sheer humbug’
    • ‘It would be humbug to pretend that authors at literary festivals have their minds on higher things than selling books.’
    • ‘He said: ‘It's definitely a case of humbug on the council's part.’’
    • ‘This obesity debate is full of humbug and denial.’
    • ‘Some environmentalists agree, but many of us think it's dangerous humbug.’
    • ‘I can see in their teachings nothing but humbug, untainted by any trace of truth.’
    hypocrisy, hypocritical behaviour, hypocritical talk, sanctimoniousness, posturing, cant, empty talk
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    1. 1.1 A hypocrite.
      ‘you see what a humbug I am’
      • ‘From most of the preachers and all the humbugs they expect nothing else.’
      • ‘Our mean-minded monarchists really are a bunch of humourless humbugs.’
      • ‘Is he a journalist for whom the principles of his profession override everything else, or is he a complete humbug who has lied to protect a source of information for a story which led to him winning an award for journalism?’
      • ‘He shows no signs of worry that the company he keeps may mark him as a stonking humbug.’
      hypocrite, hypocritical person, plaster saint, whited sepulchre
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  • 2British A hard candy, especially one flavored with peppermint.

    • ‘Pulled candy can be made from a plain sugar syrup, as in humbugs.’
    • ‘With coffee and humbugs, lunch tends to drift well into tea-time.’
    • ‘As part of her enterprise she shipped nostalgic English confection like humbugs and aniseed balls, to Navy men, tossing on the high seas.’
    • ‘The best buys include coffee beans, chocolate, mint humbugs and, of course, clotted cream shortbread.’
    • ‘Aniseed balls originated as digestifs; humbugs developed from medieval cold cures; liquorice was thought good for coughs.’

verbhumbugged, humbugs, humbugging

[with object]
  • 1Deceive; trick.

    ‘to humbug his humble neighbors was not difficult’
    • ‘Bad information and bad guesses occasionally humbugged both, which they overcame by determination and the fighting qualities of their forces.’
    deceive, trick, delude, mislead, fool, hoodwink, dupe, hoax, take in, beguile, bamboozle, gull, cheat
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    1. 1.1dated no object Act like a fraud or sham.

Origin

Mid 18th century (in the senses ‘hoax, trick’ and ‘deceiver’): of unknown origin.

Pronunciation

humbug

/ˈhəmˌbəɡ//ˈhəmˌbəɡ/