Bodgery: Bungling, botched work. Probably related to botch.
The OED calls bodgery “obsolete,” and gives only one citation for the word, from the playwright Thomas Nashe, who used it in the late 16th century. (“Doe you know your owne misbegotten bodgery?”) But I encountered it just last week in the January 2014 issue of The Atlantic, in an article by James Parker titled “TV’s Post-Recession Obsession with Stuff.” (Subtitle: “What to make of all these reality programs about pawn stores, storage lockers, and hoarders?”) Here’s the relevant sentence, along with a little context:
They’re none of them very “good,” these pawn and storage shows. Which is appropriate. Quality would be the wrong thing here. I do enjoy the drowsy Cajun vibe of Swamp Pawn, with its Barry Hannah–esque cast of loopy fishermen selling each other trucks and turtle shells, but the rest of the programs smell familiarly of contrivance, bodgery, rip-off—slapdash narratives and prodded-by-the-producer freak-outs.
In his 2011 book The Story of English in 100 Words, linguist David Crystal devotes a chapter to bodgery, using it as an excuse to talk about 16th-century word coiners:
Some 16th-century poets and playwrights seem almost to have coined words for a living. Nashe was second only to Shakespeare in the number of words whose first recorded use is found in his writing – nearly 800 – and several did become a permanent part of the language, such as conundrum, grandiloquent, multifarious and balderdash. Nashe also coined a word which would one day receive new life in science fiction: earthling.
But most coined words don’t survive, Crystal observes:
The list of words that never made it has a surreal quality. From Philip Sidney we have disinvite, hangworthy, rageful and triflingness. From Edmund Spenser, disadventurous, jolliment, schoolery and adviceful. From John Marston, cockall (‘perfection’), bespirtle (‘to spot with vice’), fubbery (‘cheating’) and glibbery (‘slippery’) – creations Lewis Carroll would have been proud of. Sometimes it’s impossible to say why one word stayed and another didn’t. Why did Spenser’s tuneful catch on but his gazeful did not?
However, you can never tell what will happen. Musicry was coined by John Marston, and nobody used it after him – until 1961, when a writer revived it for a book on the arts. Nashe’s chatmate is currently the only instance of its use in the Oxford English Dictionary. But that will soon change, for in the world of chatrooms, social networking and internet dating, what do we find? Chatmates. There’s hope for bodgery yet.
For more stories about coined-word successes and failures, see Predicting New Words, by Allan Metcalf, a book I’ve cited in posts about blurb and scofflaw.
Bonus link: Tinplate Studios: Steampunk Wonders and Bodgery, an Etsy shop specializing in steampunk “ray guns, respirators, odd gadgets, and masks as well as disturbing cryptozoological anomalies under glass.”
"The Rhinoceros," by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, calls the animal's horn "the bodger on the bounce."
Posted by: john burke | January 06, 2014 at 07:53 AM
In British English,bodgery might be obsolete but bodge isn't. A "bodge job" is used especially for incompetent general contractors who might be called "Bodgit and Scarper".
Posted by: Rachel | January 07, 2014 at 06:45 AM
I understood (from a chair bodger) that bodging was a technical term for turning poles to make decorative chair-parts; and that it refers to using a bent pole (still attached to its roots) as a whipping device to pull a cord wrapped around a lathe to turn the chair parts (a "pole lathe".
I'm surprised no dictionary you consulted would mention this.
Mr Google knows about it.
Perhaps amateur bodgers were bad at it, hence: bodged or botched job.
Posted by: Catanea | January 08, 2014 at 04:49 AM
"The bodger on the bonce" is the correct spelling. For some explanation of "bonce", which also refers to the song, see Michael Quinion's discussion at http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-bon2.htm
Posted by: Michael Vnuk | January 11, 2014 at 05:09 AM