Words: guff, n.

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The Independent Culture
ONE DARK and stormy night, I was probably the only person in England to wake and read Out of Step, an elegantly emphatic volume of essays by Jonathan Yardley, the Washington Post's weekly reviewer, who, last Sunday, wrote on Fleet Street's exports: "These watered-down Evelyn Waughs rarely know one-quarter as much about the United States as they fancy they do."

Mark Steyn is "the most gifted and least objectionable"; moreover, Yardley can "put up with a good deal more guff from him than from most, but even so guff is often on his menu". From Norwegian for gust of wind, this became ill-smelling; hence, in the 1880s, empty talk, sometimes guff and bugaboo (from Cornish for fool). Guff and nonsense echoes the 18th-century stuff and nonsense.

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