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Baloney vs. bologna

Bologna refers to a type of sausage made of finely ground meat that has been cooked and smoked. Baloney is nonsense. It is an early 20th-century American coinage derived from bologna. It may also be influenced by blarney, which in one of its definitions means nonsense or deceptive talk.

Our reference sources differ on whether baloney and bologna are homophones in English. Some say both should be pronounced “baloney,” while others say bologna should be pronounced like the Italian city, Bologna (“boloan-ya”), where the sausage originates. But everyone agrees that the two spellings have different meanings.

Examples


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Not only does Main Street not believe it, a good part of Wall Street thinks it’s baloney as well. [CNBC]

Don’t give me this baloney that he applied for his retirement a long time ago. [Tonawanda News]

The meat at Gray’s Papaya tasted like burnt bologna. [NY Times Fifth Down Blog]

It was an uninspiring loaf of French bread and a ring of Oscar Mayer bologna. [Boston Globe]

Baloney is often used in the phrasal adjective phony-baloney (or, in British publications, phoney-baloney)—for example:

As such, they are perfectly suited to the phoney-baloney gimmickry of 3D. [The Guardian]

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Comments

  1. There is also “polony”, a word which has been used for various sorts of sausages and other meat products over the centuries. I ate quite a lot of polony as a child in Wales in the 1950’s, and I believe polony is still found in Western Australia, though I don’t know whether it’s the same stuff. Some sorts of polony are quite similar to bologna, so it might be a variant of that word, but some people suggest it comes from “Polonia”, the Latin name for Poland.

  2. Dr. Hardcrab says:

    Then there is also the baloney pony, but that’s a different story…

  3. Bologna is an italian town… I can also say that in Italy we do not know any sausage or food called like the town, except the famous italian dish ”spaghetti alla bolognese”.

  4. I speculate that “baloney” is a euphemism for “bullshit” in the same way that “Jeepers” is a euphemism for “Jesus.” One begins to say the offending word, catches oneself, and cries “Godfrey Daniels” instead of a less acceptable exclamation.

  5. If an American speaker is talking about a good version of the sausage, it’s “mortadella.” A sandwich made from the cheap American stuff is pronounced a “baloney sandwich,” no matter how it’s spelled.

    • I’m American and I pronounce the sandwich meat “bolon-ya” unless I’m singing the Oscar Meyer song…

      • DontBotherMe says:

        American here too, from Virginia, and have always use “Baloney”. Possibly a regional/class distinction as the only people I’ve ever met pronouncing it the bolon-ya” way were from other states, primarily outside the south.

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