In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, what is a flapdoodle?

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willowswriter eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Flapdoodle" is a slang word used by Mark Twain in the 25th chapter of Huck Finn. The king and the duke are con men who are trying to bilk the Wilks' daughters out of their inheritance, $6000 in gold. They put on a great show of sorrow over Peter Wilks' death, claiming to be his long separated brothers from England. Huck sees the whole show put on by the king and duke as so much "flapdoodle," a word which could be replaced by baloney, balderdash, hogwash or similar slang words, meaning outrageous, obvious lies.

The word seems to have been common slang that was in use at the time of Twain's writing "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." Twain uses the word to great comic effect, because of the sound of the word itself, a nonsense word, like something a child might make up.

jenniferkleiman | Student

Chapter 25 of The Adventures of Huckleberry is named "All Full of Tears and Flapdoodle." At first glance, this title might be confusing. It might even sound like a bunch of flapdoodle to you.

Flapdoodle is one of those fun, old-fashioned slang words. It means "nonsense" or "foolish talk." For example, imagine you were a 19th-century teenager making excuses for why you didn't finish your chores. Your parent might say to you, "Look here, Jebediah. Don't give me any of that flapdoodle! Get out there and milk that cow!"

Now reread Chapter 25 with that definition in mind. What do you think Mark Twain had in mind when he named this chapter "All Full of Tears and Flapdoodle"? What does the king say that sounds like "flapdoodle"?

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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