Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Foolishness; nonsense.
  • noun A trifle; a gewgaw.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Mere nonsense; an idle fancy or conceit; a silly trifle.
  • noun plural Trivial ornaments; fallals.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun colloq. Nonsense; foolish talk.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun uncountable Nonsense or foolishness.
  • noun countable A decorative object of little value; a trifle or gewgaw.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun nonsensical talk or writing

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From a nonsense refrain in some old songs.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Originally a nonsense refrain in several old songs.

Examples

Comments

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  • From before Shakespeare's "There was a lover and his lass, / With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonny no", right down to the present day, nonsense words have been a regular feature of song lyrics. You might think that it's a stretch to suggest another meaningless la-la lyric filler is the origin of this usefully dismissive word. However, that indeed seems to be its origin, although the usual form until relatively recently was falderal rather than folderol.

    There are many traditional rhymes and songs with variants of "fal-de-ral" in them somewhere. For example, Robert Bell noted these words of an old Yorkshire mummer's play in his Ancient Poems, Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry Of England of 1857: "I hope you'll prove kind with your money and beer, / We shall come no more near you until the next year. /Fal de ral, lal de lal, etc." And Sir Walter Scott included a few lines of an old Scottish ballad in The Bride of Lammermoor (1819): "There was a haggis in Dunbar, / Fal de ral, etc. / Mony better and few waur, / Fal de ral, etc." Charles Dickens had gentle fun with this habit in his Sketches By Boz of 1836-7: "Smuggins, after a considerable quantity of coughing by way of symphony, and a most facetious sniff or two, which afford general delight, sings a comic song, with a fal-de-ral — tol-de-ral chorus at the end of every verse, much longer than the verse itself."

    It was around 1820 that this traditional chorus is first recorded as a term for a gewgaw or flimsy thing that was showy but of no value, though it had to wait until the 1870s before it started to be widely used.

    (from World Wide Words)

    May 28, 2008

  • also, falderal

    November 8, 2008

  • This is one of my favorite replacements for the f-word. Why I have no idea. It's not harsh, nor is its meaning related. Go figure.

    July 23, 2009