to do work of little or no practical value merely to keep or look busy.
to deceive or attempt to deceive: to boondoggle investors into a low-interest scheme.
a product of simple manual skill, as a plaited leather cord for the neck or a knife sheath, made typically by a camper or a scout.
work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
a project funded by the federal government out of political favoritism that is of no real value to the community or the nation.
To the cowboy it meant the making of saddle trappings out of odds and ends of leather, and they boondoggled when there was nothing else to do on the ranch.
— , The Chicago Tribune , 1935
Against this backdrop, what happens next in California has broad import. Will the Monterey Shale be a boon, a boondoggle or, worse, an environmental mess?
— Alex Prud’homme , “‘Fracking’ the Monterey Shale — boon or boondoggle?” Los Angeles Times , 2013
Boondoggle is an Americanism that dates to the 1930s. The term’s origin is obscure, but it was popularized during the New Deal as a pejorative word for government projects for the unemployed.