What Does the Word “Boondoggle” Mean and How Did the Term For a Useless Project Originate?

The word boondoggle was first used in 1935 to describe “make-work” projects during the New Deal of American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945).

It meant any useless task created simply to give men employment during the Great Depression.

Surprisingly, the word comes from the Boy Scouts whose braided leather lanyard is simply cosmetic with no real purpose.

It was named a “boondoggle” by R.H. Link after the leather frills worn by American frontiersman Daniel Boone (1734-1820).

The word survives with the contemptuous political meaning of money wasted on unimportant or meaningless projects.