AskDefine | Define bogus

Dictionary Definition

bogus adj : fraudulent; having a misleading appearance [syn: fake, phony, phoney, bastard]

User Contributed Dictionary



First attested from 1797, as underworld term for counterfeit coins. Meaning of the machine (known as a bogus press) was first attested 1828. Sense of phony paper money as well as a general adjective applied to anything, being less valuable than it first appeared was first attested 1848. Later, the word was applied to anything of poor quality. The current use to mean useless is probably from the slang of computer hackers.
The origin is unknown, but there are at least two theories that try to trace its origin:
  • From Hausa boko, to fake. Since bogus first appeared in the USA, this may be possible that its ancestor was brought there on a slave ship.
  • From criminal slang as a short form of tantrabogus, a 19th century slang term for a menacing object, making some believe that bogus might be linked to bogy or bogey (see bogeyman).



  1. Counterfeit or fake; not genuine.
  2. Incorrect; useless; broken.
    • “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, 1982
      So what Jefferson was saying was "Hey! You know, we left this England place because it was bogus. So if we don't get some cool rules ourselves, pronto, we'll just be bogus too."
  3. (stamp-collecting) a totally fictitious issue printed for collectors, often issued on behalf of a non-existent territory or country.
    Should not be confused with ‘forgery’ which is a copy of a genuine stamp.


Derived terms


counterfeit or fake; not genuine
incorrect; useless; broken
totally fictitious issue printed for collectors

Extensive Definition

Bogus can mean:

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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