Wednesday Word: Fur (Hair)

What does snow have in common with manure? Well, both are used as idioms in English to describe words which are used to deceive (snow job, B.S. or bull).

Palawano uses a completely different word for the same figure of speech. The word bulbol means “body hair,” “fur” or “feathers.” Already you think I’m pulling your leg (whoops, there’s another English idiom). But yes, the literal meaning of bulbol covers all of those meanings, sort of the range of “things that stick out of a creature’s skin.”

But bulbol is also used for the kind of elaborate stories and joking that makes a fool of the listener who is gullible enough to believe it. This choice of word may be totally arbitrary, as many idioms are. Or perhaps there is an underlying connection between “feathers/fur” and “lies/stories.” After all, both should be discarded before the meat is swallowed.

Interestingly, another Palawano idiom is “to be lacking in bulbol” which means, “short of cash.”

And I’m not kidding…


About Bill Davis

Writer, speaker and translation and language learning consultant. I write technical articles, poetry and humor, and I am working on my first novel which is set on the island of Palawan in the Philippines.
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1 Response to Wednesday Word: Fur (Hair)

  1. Bill Davis says:

    Seemed like a good idea to wait until last night to post this one, so most readers would see it on the morning of April 1st, even though it put Wednesday Word on Thursday!

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