Wednesday Nautical Terms and Phrases: Bamboozle

to deceive

I knew of the scene in Malcolm X, where Denzel Washington states “Every election year, these politicians are sent up here to pacify us,” he says. “You’ve been hoodwinked. Bamboozled.”  Apparently and totally missed by myself when it actually occurred, Obama during his campaign (at the very of this clip) used similar terminology which gave the fodder to the right to make the rather bold claim Obama was a racist.  Hmmmm.


from the 17th century, it described the Spanish custom of hoisting false flags to deceive (bamboozle) enemies.

Also see Word Detective (scroll down) for the potential origns of the word.

Dr. M (1746 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

One comment on “Wednesday Nautical Terms and Phrases: Bamboozle
  1. Gotta say it Dr. M, the whole family loves this series. My wife is a word nerd and idiomatic phrases such as these have always interested her. Of course now Johann is using maritime phrases on the playground and around campus at soem really odd times. But he’ll grow out of that… or not.

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