Lexicon (220/455)

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trumpery, n. and adj.

Forms:  ME–15 trompery(e, (15 tromperey, troumperie, trumprie), 15–16 tromperie, trumperie, 15– trumpery.
Frequency (in current use): 
Etymology: < French tromperie (14th cent. in Godefroy Compl.), < tromper trump v.2: see -ery suffix 1.

A. n.

1. Deceit, fraud, imposture, trickery. Obs.

c1485  (▸1456)    G. Hay Bk. Law of Armys (2005) 212   Sa yat thare be na trompery.
a1578   R. Lindsay Hist. & Cron. Scotl. (1899) I. 141   They concordit alltogither in trumperie and fallsit.
1677   T. Gale Court of Gentiles: Pt. III iii. 78   Their Ethics were but false or..imperfect ideas of Vertues..their politics were but carnal and so false reasons of State..and therefore stiled in the Scripture tromperie, deceit, and lies.
1847   B. Disraeli Tancred I. ii. iv. 142   Irish Papists denouncing the whole movement as fraud and trumpery.


1481   Caxton tr. Siege & Conqueste Jerusalem (1893) clxiii. 241   His fayr wordes full of tromperyes and deceytes.
1598   R. Dallington View of Fraunce sig. H jv   He left none of his trumperies and double dealings vnreuealed.
1646   Sir T. Browne Pseudodoxia Epidemica vii. xii. 362   He runnes into corners, exercising minor trumperies, and acting his deceits in Witches, Magicians, Diviners.
1687   R. L’Estrange Brief Hist. Times I. 140   How was the Justice of the Nation, Abus’d, and Impos’d upon by the Trumperies of Confederacy.

 2. ‘Something of less value than it seems’; hence, ‘something of no value; trifles’ (Johnson); worthless stuff, trash, rubbish. (Usually collective sing.; also, now rarely, pl.)


 a. Applied to material objects (see also A. 2c   A. 2e).

1531   in J. Raine Testamenta Eboracensia (1884) V. 324   A tub, a hogeshed wt other trumperie, viij d.
a1616   Shakespeare Winter’s Tale (1623) iv. iv. 598   I haue sold all my Tromperie: not a counterfeit Stone, not a Ribbon, Glasse, Pomander, Browch..to keepe my Pack from fasting.
1789   H. L. Piozzi Observ. Journey France II. 353   A heap of trumpery fit to furnish out the shop of a Westminster pawnbroker.
1807   Salmagundi 20 Mar. 111   An abundance of trumpery and rubbish, with which the house is incumbered,..every room, and closet, and corner, is crammed with three legged chairs, clocks without hands, swords without scabbards [etc.].


a1618   W. Raleigh Disc. Invention Shipping 41 in Judicious & Select Ess. (1650)    Silver, Cut works, Cambricks, and a world of other trumperyes.
1848   Thackeray Vanity Fair xliv. 393   Drawers and cupboards crammed with the dirty relics and congregated trumperies of a couple of generations of Lady Crawleys.

 b. Applied to abstract things, as beliefs, practices, discourse, writing, etc.: Nonsense, ‘rubbish’.

c1485  (▸1456)    G. Hay Bk. Law of Armys (2005) 269   Ffor gif fulis..be sa daft yat thai wage bataill for lytill evyn as to say..yat he dauncis or syngis better na he dois, or for syk maner of tromperyis.
1578   H. Lyte tr. R. Dodoens Niewe Herball iii. lx. 401   The blacke spottes growing on the backside of the leaues [of ‘male fern’: cf. fern-seed n.]..some do gather thinking to worke wonders, but to say the trueth, it is nothing els but trumperie and superstition.
1693   Dryden tr. Juvenal Satires vi. 96   With all their Trumpery of Charms.
1726   D. Defoe Polit. Hist. Devil i. ii. 25   All the metaphysical trumpery of the Schools.
1846   D. Jerrold Mrs. Caudle viii. 25   I’d put an end to free-masonry and all such trumpery.

 c. Applied contemptuously to religious practices, ceremonies, ornaments, etc. regarded as idle or superstitious. (Cf. trinket n.1 3) Now rare or merged in general sense.

1542   H. Brinkelow Lamentacion sig. Ciii   Pardons and other of their trompery hath bene bought and sold.
1566   in E. Peacock Eng. Church Furnit. (1866) 95   Banner clothes, crosse clothes, with the rest of the trash as vestments albes and such lik tromperie—wear defacid..by the said churchwardens.
1667   Milton Paradise Lost iii. 475   Embryo’s and Idiots, Eremits and Friers White, Black and Grey, with all thir trumperie .
1756   C. Lucas Ess. Waters iii. 12   This City is famed for..reliques of saints, and such like holy trumpery.
1824   R. Southey Bk. of Church (1841) 267   St. Francis, St. Dominic, and their fellows, must dislodge with all their trumpery.


1548   tr. M. Luther Chiefe Articles Christen Faythe Pref. sig. Av   Our juglynge tromperies.
1625   S. Purchas Pilgrimes ix. vii. § i. 1487   Wearied with the trumperies of the Religion of Mahumet.
1731   J. Pitts True & Faithful Acct. Mahometans (ed. 3) vi. 55   They blame the Papists for having so many Trumperies in their Churches.

 d. Showy but unsubstantial apparel; worthless finery.

a1616   Shakespeare Tempest (1623) iv. i. 186   The trumpery in my house, goe bring it hither For stale to catch these theeues.
1804   M. Edgeworth Out of Debt iv, in Pop. Tales I. 376   ‘You have brought me to the gallows, and all for this trumpery!’ cried he, snatching her gaudy hat from her head.
1851   C. Brontë Let. in E. C. Gaskell Life C. Brontë (1857) II. ix. 209   It would be no shame for a person of my means to wear a cheaper thing..if you..call it ‘trumpery’ so much the worse.

 e. Hort. Weeds or refuse, such as hinder the growth of valuable plants. Obs. exc. dial.

1669   J. Worlidge Systema Agriculturæ (1681) 214   Broom, Furze, Heath, and other suchlike trumpery, that delight only in barren Lands.
1707   J. Mortimer Whole Art Husbandry (1721) II. 387   Finish your last Weeding, and cleanse your Garden of Trumpery.
1758   R. Brown Compl. Farmer (1760) ii. 30   It occasions its running to May-weed, and other trumpery.
1888   F. T. Elworthy W. Somerset Word-bk.   Trumpery, rubbish of any kind; weeds or any undesirable growth.

 f. Applied to a person, esp. a woman: cf. trash n.1 4   ? Obs. exc. dial.

1738   Swift Compl. Coll. Genteel Conversat. 195   For Want of Company, welcome Trumpery.
1766   O. Goldsmith Vicar of Wakefield II. ii. 44   Out, I say..tramp, thou infamous strumpet… What! you trumpery, to come and take up an honest house, without cross or coin to bless yourself with.
1852   H. B. Stowe Uncle Tom’s Cabin I. xviii. 310   Get out wid ye, ye trumpery—I won’t have ye round!

 B. adj.

  Of little or no value; trifling, paltry, insignificant; worthless, rubbishy, trashy.

1576   A. Fleming tr. J. Caius Of Eng. Dogges 16   A Hare..was seene..playing with his former feete vppon a tabbaret…. This is no trumpery tale, nor trifling toye.
1748   H. Walpole Lett. (1845) II. 229   Mr. Ashurst..has built a trumpery new house.
1781   H. Walpole Let. to W. Mason 14 Apr.   Dr. Johnson’s ‘Life of Pope’..is a most trumpery performance.
1810   Scott Let. 23 Nov. (1932) II. 401   I hope you will set some value upon this little trumpery brooch because it is..a Scotch harp and set with Iona stones.
1865   M. Arnold Ess. Crit. vii. 226   The accents of a trumpery rhetorician.
1869   Trollope He knew he was Right I. xvi. 127   It seems a trumpery quarrel,—as to who should beg each other’s pardon first.


  ˈtrumperiness  n.

1868   A. K. H. Boyd Lessons Middle Age 271   How these things impress the lover of Gothic who dwells in a country of churches of inexpressible trumperiness and shabbiness!