bogus: adj.

1. Non-functional. “Your patches are bogus.

2. Useless. “OPCON is a bogus program.

3. False. “Your arguments are bogus.

4. Incorrect. “That algorithm is bogus.

5. Unbelievable. “You claim to have solved the halting problem for Turing Machines? That's totally bogus.

6. Silly. “Stop writing those bogus sagas.

Astrology is bogus. So is a bolt that is obviously about to break. So is someone who makes blatantly false claims to have solved a scientific problem. (This word seems to have some, but not all, of the connotations of random — mostly the negative ones.)

It is claimed that bogus was originally used in the hackish sense at Princeton in the late 1960s. It was spread to CMU and Yale by Michael Shamos, a migratory Princeton alumnus. A glossary of bogus words was compiled at Yale when the word was first popularized there about 1975-76. These coinages spread into hackerdom from CMU and MIT. Most of them remained wordplay objects rather than actual vocabulary items or live metaphors. Examples: amboguous (having multiple bogus interpretations); bogotissimo (in a gloriously bogus manner); bogotophile (one who is pathologically fascinated by the bogus); paleobogology (the study of primeval bogosity).

Some bogowords, however, obtained sufficient live currency to be listed elsewhere in this lexicon; see bogometer, bogon, bogotify, and quantum bogodynamics and the related but unlisted Dr. Fred Mbogo.

By the early 1980s ‘bogus’ was also current in something like hacker usage sense in West Coast teen slang, and it had gone mainstream by 1985. A correspondent from Cambridge reports, by contrast, that these uses of bogus grate on British nerves; in Britain the word means, rather specifically, ‘counterfeit’, as in “a bogus 10-pound note”. According to Merriam-Webster, the word dates back to 1825 and originally referred to a counterfeiting machine.

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