Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
October 24th, 2015
Episode 359 of 826 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 24, 2015 is: flimflam \FLIM-flam\ verb : to subject to deception or fraud Examples: The people behind the e-mail scam tried to flimflam unsuspecting users into giving out their credit card information and Social Security numbers. "Dozens of Central New Yorkers were flimflammed into investing in a dying company because they were fed false information about its financial condition, a federal lawsuit says." John O'Brien, The Post Standard (Syracuse, New York), 2 May 2015 Did you know? English is full of words concerned with trickery and deception, ranging from the colorful flimflam, bamboozle, and hornswoggle to the more mundane deceive, mislead, and delude. Flimflam first entered English as a noun meaning "deceptive nonsense" in the 16th century. A sense meaning "deception" or "fraud" soon developed. The verb use didn't show up until well into the next century. In addition to general deceiving or tricking, the verb flimflam is often used specifically to refer to swindling someone out of money. The ultimate origin of flimflam is uncertain, but the word is probably of Scandinavian origin and may be related to the Old Norse flim, meaning "mockery."