My friend Maverick (an Englishwoman) was talking to an American friend via Skype, and the following happened:
There was some banter as I had accused of him of pontificating (as opposed to going out and doing research!) He said no, he was 'bloviating'. I had not come across this word before and when I looked it up on google during our conversation I saw that it is used in USA. Is it ever used on this side of the pond?It's not the most common word in America, either, but it is AmE. To quote the OED (draft 2004) definition, it means "To talk at length, esp. using inflated or empty rhetoric; to speechify or ‘sound off’." Searching for it on .uk sites, one commonly finds comments about it being American, or in 'expand your vocabulary' sites, or in (BrE) inverted commas/(AmE) quotation marks, indicating its newness or foreignness. Some examples:
The verb "to bloviate" is one I learnt in America, and it sums up what Clinton excels at: an effortlessly congenial form of self-promotion. (Times Online, 2004)It's not all that new, however. The OED has found it as far back as 1845, in an Ohio newspaper. In linguistic terms, it seems to be a blend, also known as a portmanteau word--that is, a word that smashes (new technical term) together the form and meaning two words. The OED suspects that it came from blow + -viate as in deviate.
The Concise also says croeso (welcome) to some Welsh words with bore da (good morning) and iechyd da (good health) joining thousands of words from all around the English-speaking world: dicky (car boot) and batchmate (classmate) from India, spinny (mad, crazy) from Canada, and bloviate (talk at length in an inflated or empty way) from America. (about the Concise Oxford English Dictionary on Amazon.co.uk)
Another blend that I like is brunch--or maybe I'm confusing liking the meal for liking the word. Now, I had assumed that this was an AmE word, since the concept of brunch (particularly the institution of Sunday brunch--see, for example, the site of San Diego's Sunday Brunch Master) is fairly undeveloped in the UK (because everyone's saving their appetites for Sunday lunch). Whenever I suggest to Better Half that we should host a Sunday brunch, his reaction is something like Huh? But it's my favo(u)rite meal of the week, especially when (AmE) coffee cake is involved. That's another one that puzzles BH. He thinks (as do all the cafés (a)round here) that coffee cake means 'cake flavo(u)red with coffee', whereas in AmE it's a type of cake that goes well with a cup of coffee--particularly "in the U.S., a breakfast bread of yeast dough enriched with eggs, butter, and sugar, baked in a sheet topped with streusel [etc.]..and glazed with melted sugar" (OED). (See previous posts on baked goods and weird things people do with them, if you're interested.) So, I had a hard time believing that brunch could have originally been blended anywhere but America.
But how wrong I was! The OED lists it as 'orig. University slang' and its first published example of the word comes from Punch in 1896. Imagine that...
But before you imagine that, observe how pathetically I failed at writing about just the one word I meant to write about!