Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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What a Lovely Word : Flummery…

July 20, 2013

Flummery – definition: 1) soft jelly or porridge made from meal 2) unsubstantial writing or talk : mumbo jumbo

Isn’t this a wonderful word? I want to use it often.

If any of you have tried this jelly, please let me know. It’s not something I have ever tasted but it looks good. It is a starch-based sweet soft dessert pudding,  popular in Britain and Ireland from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. The first known use was in 1623 -Welsh llymru – if only I had known when visiting Wales recently.

As a child I ate junket, which is a milk-based dessert, made with sweetened milk and rennet, the digestive enzyme, which curdles milk. Different to jelly (jello) and available in lots of flavors.









As for the second definition, I’m sure we have all experienced mumbo jumbo at one time or another. Legal documents are regular culprits for confusing a subject, which could so easily be explained in ‘plain’ English. Baffling someone with extraneous explanations or technical speak, does not garner us as knowledge but rather pompous and, to be frank, unkind to our audience.

The word was used in this sentence by The Edmonton Sun (2003) : Poring through reams of bureaucratic flummery, however, makes people’s brains hurt.

Do you have an example of flummery to share?


  1. Bureaucratic flummery. That reminds me of the Paperwork Reduction Act, which requires an extra couple of pages to be added to numerous federal documents, describing the Paperwork Reduction Act. Let’s use a lot of extra paper to describe how much paper we’re saving.


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