Jiggery-pokery and Pure Applesauce

By Maeve Maddox

The choice of words in a recent Supreme Court dissent prompted this email from a reader:

Justice Scalia recently used the terms “pure applesauce” and “jiggery-pokery.” I was able to find what “jiggery-pokery” means but not “pure applesauce”. Can you help?

Jiggery-pokery, as the reader presumably discovered, is a colloquial expression meaning “deceitful or dishonest manipulation; hocus pocus, humbug.” Merriam-Webster labels it “chiefly British.”

Applesauce is an informal expression meaning, “insincere flattery, lies.” The OED labels it “North American slang,” but I found examples in Australian and British usage. “Pure applesauce” is “nonsense unmixed with a shred of honesty or truth.”

Examples of applesauce to mean nonsense or invention:

“Well, I need you to understand, Lindsay, that that is a load of applesauce.—Dale: Image of Innocence, Roo Palmer (Australian novelist), 2010. 

“All those grandmas want to talk about the vote. That’s nothing but a load of applesauce.” Lilies in Moonlight: A Novel, Allison K. Pittman, 2011.

“Well, flattering as this passage may be to my self-esteem, it is, as far as my recollection goes, pure applesauce….”—Owen Barfield (British philosopher), quoted in C. S. Lewis’s List: The Ten Books That Influenced Him Most, 2015. 

Examples of jiggery-pokery to mean “deceitful or manipulative goings-on”:

But spare me this nationalist jiggery pokery; no one needs to hear it—Reader comment.

God only knows what jiggery pokery has been going on with the judicial branch but I’d be shocked if they haven’t also been compromised.—Reader comment.

I’ve been busy of late with the new jiggery pokery that is The Children and Families Act 2014, Part 3.—A blogger on children’s issues.

Don’t come to me with your sociological jiggery-pokery; it’s all coincidence and barely worthy of remark.—The Guardian (UK).

Examples of jiggery-pokery to mean “manipulation of objects”:

Ever since then, I’ve been a secret advocate of the ancient Chinese art of needle-based jiggery pokery.—Article about acupuncture, The Week (UK). 

I did some techno-jiggery-pokery to let me watch videos outside the country they were meant to be viewed in, but that was in Firefox.—Reader comment in The Guardian.

The thrill of it all is in the reactions of the spooked, rather than the clever jiggery-pokery that allows furniture to become mobile or a marble to stop dead at someone’s feet.—Review of The Enfield Haunting, a television miniseries, The Guardian.

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1 Response to “Jiggery-pokery and Pure Applesauce”

  • venqax

    I have never heard either term, but they look like they apply perfectly to some recent Supreme Court decisions. Thank you, Antonin.

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