Unless you’re a retired army colonel or elderly lord of a manor, you probably don’t use this word very much. But if you’re a native English speaker then you’ll know what it means – it’s a harmless, inoffensive way of calling bullshit. But my (as always, very in depth) research reveals that the word poppycock has some shady etymological origins.

Before you start, it’s nothing to do with cocks (stop it). Or, indeed, poppies. ‘Poppycock’ comes from a Dutch word ‘pappekak’. (This is where it gets a bit minging.) ‘pappe’ means ‘soft’ and ‘kak’ means, well, cack. Yep, if you tell someone they’re talking poppycock, you’re saying that ‘soft poop’ is coming out of their mouth. What a lovely image.

Read the other words of the week.