Jiggery-pokery: Deceitful or dishonest manipulation; hocus-pocus, humbug. It was first documented in 1893, but a related term, Scots joukery-pawkery (clever trickery, jugglery, or legerdemain) is attested from 1686. The latter term is a compound of jouk (a sudden elusive movement) and pawky (artful, sly, shrewd, roguish).
Jiggery-pokery was in the news last week after it appeared in U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in King v. Burwell, the 6-3 decision to allow the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, to stand. Scalia wrote:
The Court’s next bit of interpretive jiggery-pokery involves other parts of the Act that purportedly presuppose the availability of tax credits on both federal and state Exchanges.
Elsewhere in his dissent, Scalia dismissed the majority opinion as “pure applesauce.” Applesauce is a bit of 1920s slang meaning “nonsense,” “horsefeathers,” or—to put it more plainly than Scalia is wont to do—“bullshit.”
“It’s a very cranky piece of writing,” observed Ben Mathis-Lilley in Slate.