Words of the week:


In more recent times the term “Boondoggle” has come to refer to a
government or corporate project involving large numbers of people and
usually, heavy expenditure, where at some point the key operators have
realized that the project is never going to work, but are reluctant to
bring this to the attention of their superiors. Generally there is an
aspect of “going through the motions”, (for example, continuing
research and development), for as long as funds are available to keep
paying the researchers’ and executives’ salaries and so on. The
situation can be allowed to continue for what seem like unreasonably
long periods, as senior management are often reluctant to admit that
they allowed a failed project to go on for so long. In many cases, the
actual device itself may eventually work, but not well enough to ever
recoup its development costs.

An important aspect of the Boondoggle, as opposed to a project that
simply fails, is the eventual realization by its operators that it is
never going to work, long before it is finally shut down. This is not
the same thing as simply fraud, where the proponents know in advance
that their idea has no merit.


A fiasco means multifaceted, extravagant and sad failures in pursuit
of an end that at least some had previously regarded as a chimera.

In ordinary American usage, a “fiasco” is some effort that went wrong.
In hindsight, it would appear to have been foolishly undertaken or

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3 thoughts on “Words of the week:”

  1. Good words for very sad things. I came across the word “boondoggle” about four years ago in the dictionary (which I happen to peruse sometimes.. heh), and showed it to a swiss friend of mine. He thought it was hilarious. Being as efficient as the swiss tend to be, he saw a lot of… inefficiencies on the ship and with the organization itself. He lost his skepticism later on though, and grew to appreciate the clunky things. (c:

  2. Well, it’s election time again here in the Philippines…and since boondoggles and or fiascos seem to be the only outcome of most government action, I appriecated a review of the definitions. Sigh.

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