Definition of humbug in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhʌmbʌɡ/


1 [mass noun] Deceptive or false talk or behaviour: his comments are sheer humbug
More example sentences
  • It would be humbug to pretend that authors at literary festivals have their minds on higher things than selling books.
  • This obesity debate is full of humbug and denial.
  • He said: ‘It's definitely a case of humbug on the council's part.’
hypocrisy, hypocritical talk/behaviour, sanctimoniousness, posturing, cant, empty talk;
insincerity, dishonesty, falseness, falsity, sham, deceit, deception, deceptiveness, imposture, pretence;
informal phoneyness, con, kidology
Irish informal codology
1.1 [count noun] A hypocrite: you see what a humbug I am
More example sentences
  • 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.
2British A boiled sweet, especially one flavoured with peppermint.
Example sentences
  • The best buys include coffee beans, chocolate, mint humbugs and, of course, clotted cream shortbread.
  • 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.

verb (humbugs, humbugging, humbugged)

[with object]
1Deceive; trick: poor Dave is easily humbugged
More example sentences
  • Bad information and bad guesses occasionally humbugged both, which they overcame by determination and the fighting qualities of their forces.
1.1 [no object] dated Act like a fraud: she was always ready to help him, provided he didn’t humbug


bah humbug!

Used to express grumpy dislike of something generally regarded as enjoyable, in particular Christmas: Christmas is looming. Bah humbug! Bah humbug to him. In some places Christmas is still a magical time of year
From its use by the miser Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens's novel A Christmas Carol (1843)
More example sentences
  • I say bah humbug to you people who condemn them building it.
  • In a world where taking someone out to a movie can get expensive, the whole idea makes a skinflint want to say, "Bah, humbug!"
  • Sentimentalists will moan that the TV has replaced the traditional fireplace as the focus of family attention over the holidays, but we say bah, humbug to that.



Pronunciation: /ˈhʌmbʌɡəri/
Example sentences
  • It takes a vicious swipe at the humbuggery that has taken over modern politics, and the continuing double-standards applying to men and women in public office.
  • His response to all this humbuggery has been to suggest a spontaneous uprising among the oppressed Christians of America.
  • All scientists have a bit of humbuggery about them don't you think.


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

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: hum¦bug

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