Words and Their Stories - a program in Special English Our word today is "bogus" – b-o-g-u-s. Anything that is bogus is not real. It pretends to be real and may even look real, but it is not. In fact, the only thing that is real about "bogus" is that it is pure American-born in the early 1800's. No one is sure where the word came from.

The first time it appeared in print was in 1827 in Ohio. At that time police found a group of men who were coining false or counterfeit money. A large crowd gathered around to look at the strange machine that was used to make the money. Someone in the crowd said that the machine looked like a bogus. Well, the next day, the local newspaper used the word, "bogus," and it became part of the language.

From then on, the machine used by counterfeiters was called a "bogus press." Of course, it was easy to widen the use of the word now that it had been invented. Counterfeit or false money was soon called "bogus money." And as the years passed, any article that was not the real was called "bogus." But that is only one story about the birth of bogus.

The Boston Courier, a newspaper that died a long time ago, said that the word, "bogus," came from a famous swindler with the Italian name of Borghese. "Borghese," the paper said, "became famous by writing bad checks, cashing them at banks and stores, then leaving town in a hurry. In 1837, Borghese was known throughout the South and the West for his worthless checks, bills of exchange, and notes."

"In time," the newspaper said, "the name, Borghese, was shortened to become 'bogus.'"

Today, we have "bogus money," "bogus mines," "bogus hair," "bogus diamonds," and so on.

Speaking of bogus diamonds reminds me of a vacation I took many years ago in New York City. I was waiting for a train home after two delightful weeks in the city, when a man came up to me and asked softly if I would like to buy a genuine diamond ring.

His manner led me to believe that perhaps he had found the ring and wanted money quickly. Little did I realize that he was what is known as a small-time swindler, a cheat, a con man. He showed me the ring and asked for $15.

It looked real, but then I said, "A real diamond will scratch glass, won't it?" He pulled me over to a store window and scratched the diamond against the glass and made a deep cut. I gave him the money. I put the ring on my finger and got on the train, feeling I had made a good bargain. Why, the diamond would pay for my trip!

When I got home, I showed the ring to my wife. She asked me to take it off my finger which I did. My finger was green. The ring itself was copper, not gold or gold plate. The diamond was a bogus diamond. I started to get angry.
"Why that cheat!" I said. "That swindler!"
My wife looked at me and smiled.
"Yes," she said, "he was a swindler but so were you. You knew, when you paid him $15, that a real diamond is worth much more than that. So both of you were trying to get the better of the other. Only you lost."

I looked at my bogus diamond and then put it away. I still have it just to remind myself that what might seem real could be bogus.

by VOA: http://www.voanews.com/specialenglish/words_and_their_stories.cfm

Posted by စိမ့္စမ္းေရ on Sunday, April 22, 2012


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