AskDefine | Define flummery

Dictionary Definition



1 a bland custard or pudding especially of oatmeal
2 meaningless ceremonies and flattery [syn: mummery]

User Contributed Dictionary


Somewhat archaic


Welsh llymru, a jelly derived from oatmeal


  1. empty or meaningless talk
  2. deceptive or blustering speech; bullshit
    • 1940: Rex Stout, Over My Dead Body - "Pfui! This is flummery!"
  3. custard; any of several bland, gelatinous foodstuffs made from strained oatmeal and flour


  1. an expression of contemptuous disbelief

Extensive Definition

Flummery (from the Welsh llymru) is a sweet soft pudding that is made from stewed fruit and thickened with cornstarch. Traditional British flummeries were like porridge as they were often oatmeal based and cooked to achieve a smooth and gelatinous texture; often sugar and milk was added and occasionally orange flower water. The dish is typically bland in nature. The dish gained stature in the 17th century where it was prepared in elaborate molds and served with applause from the dining audience. The writer Bill Bryson, who has covered subjects as wide as travel, science and language use, described flummery as an early form of blancmange in his book Made in America.
Flummery is also an empty compliment, unsubstantial talk or writing, mumbo jumbo, rubbish talk, meaningless and pompous ceremonies, and nonsense.
In the novel "Dodsworth" by Sinclair Lewis, one of Dodsworth's favorite interjections: "Pfui! This is flummery!"
Another example of the word is in "The Trouble With Lichen" by John Wyndham, wherein he wrote:
“This is not the age of reason, this is the age of flummery, and the day of the devious approach. Reason’s gone into the backrooms where it works to devise means by which people can be induced to emote in the desired direction.”



  • The Land that Thyme Forgot p. 346

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

absurdity, amphigory, babble, babblement, balderdash, bibble-babble, blabber, blather, bombast, claptrap, double-talk, drivel, drool, fiddle-faddle, fiddledeedee, folderol, fudge, fustian, gabble, galimatias, gammon, gibber, gibberish, gibble-gabble, gobbledygook, hocus-pocus, humbug, jabber, jargon, mumbo jumbo, narrishkeit, niaiserie, nonsense, pack of nonsense, palaver, prate, prattle, rant, rigamarole, rigmarole, rodomontade, rubbish, skimble-skamble, stuff and nonsense, stultiloquence, trash, trumpery, twaddle, twattle, twiddle-twaddle, vaporing, waffling
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