Humbug refers to language or behavior that is deceptive, false, or insincere, often used to mislead someone or to gain an advantage. It can also refer to a type of hard candy that is flavored with peppermint or spearmint.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



deception, fraud, hoax, trickery, sham, charlatanism, deceit, pretense, flimflam, imposture.


Authenticity, truth, sincerity, candidness, forthrightness.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun humbug, humbugs
Verb humbugged, humbug, humbugging, humbugs
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The congressman’s claims about reducing taxes were nothing but humbug to gain votes for the upcoming election.

  • The company’s promise of providing environmentally friendly products turned out to be a mere humbug to attract more customers.

  • She believed that the astrologer was a charlatan who spoke nothing but humbug, preying on people’s insecurities and gullibility.

  • The magician’s trick was nothing but an elaborate humbug to distract the audience’s attention from his sleight-of-hand.


Humbug is a versatile word that has its origins in the 18th century. Initially, it referred to someone who was a trickster or impostor, trying to deceive others with false pretenses. Over time, the term has evolved to encompass not only people but also actions, ideas, and even objects that are meant to deceive or mislead others.

Variations of humbug include more specific terms such as “flimflam,” “hoax,” “charlatan,” and “imposture.” These words all carry similar connotations of deception, falsehood, and insincerity. Similarly, there are many suffixes and prefixes that can be added to humbug to create related words, such as “humbuggery,” “humbugging,” and “humbugger.”

Humbug can also be used in a playful or sarcastic way to dismiss something as insincere, false, or trivial. In this sense, it is often used as a term of derision or criticism, as in the phrase “Don’t give me that humbug” or “That’s all humbug and nonsense.” However, it can also be used affectionately, as a term of endearment or teasing, particularly in British English.

Overall, the term “humbug” has come to represent something that is false, deceptive, or insincere in modern usage. Its varied meanings and usage make it a versatile addition to any vocabulary, and you may hear it used in a number of different contexts throughout your life.