Not “Blogging” but “Blagging”

One minor consequence of the recent phone hacking scandal in England is an increase in the use of the term “blagging,” new to me. Thus, in The Register today:

News International journalists from multiple papers persistently tried to get gossip on the former prime minister Gordon Brown by ‘blagging’ access to his bank account, legal documents and even his son’s medical records, it has been alleged.

According to the Oxford dictionaries, to “blag” is essentially:

1. trans. To obtain or achieve [something] by persuasive talk or plausible deception; to bluff, to dupe or deceive by bluffing; to scrounge, esp. by clever or deceitful talk.

2. intr. To talk persuasively, if disingenuously, in an attempt to obtain or achieve something; to bluff; to scrounge, esp. by clever or deceitful talk.

As a transitive verb it first showed up in print in 1934 and as an intransitive verb in 1991, referring in the latter case to talking one’s way into a nightclub. Seems it might have come from the French blague, which word had some life in English in the mid to late 1800s as meaning a pretentious falsehood or humbug.

Apparently, English journalists, when they couldn’t get the default passwords such as 1111 or 4444 to work, would try to talk their way into the information by pretending to service providers to be the account holders — blagging.


  1. It was new to me as well. I originally equated it with phishing, but it has a far broader meaning that that.