Archive for March 13th, 2011

March 13, 2011


HumVee deploying smokescreen, pic:

Since we are on the topic of smoke today, here is another expression using smoke: smokescreen (or smoke screen).

The term was originally used by the military and means quite literally what it implies: a screen consisting of a cloud of smoke that obscures movements and as such gives cover and protection.

The term is also used outside the military and means an action or statement that intends to conceal or confuse or obscure actual plans or intentions.  Smokescreens are frequently used in politics – at least that is my impression and I might be a bit jaded.

Here are some examples of headlines using the word smokescreen:

Drugstore tobacco sale ban is a smokes screen (The Herald News article here)

Lawyer calls charges against Sen. Orie ‘a smokescreen’ – the article is here

March 13, 2011

Blowing smoke

A bit of smoke concealing a trick, pic: theseriouslyfunny

My 6 year old would immediately thing of dragons with smoke coming out of their nostrils but blowing smoke has nothing to to do with fantasy writing and fairy tales.

If you are blowing smoke, you are boasting without being able to back it up, your are deceiving people by making claims that aren’t substantiated, you are talking about action without intent to follow through.

People blow smoke in professional situations, e.g. when they claim to have more experience than they actually do, as well as in personal situation, when one exaggerates ones accomplishments or abilities.

Here are a couple of examples:

“He said he had lots of experience selling into large accounts but I think he was just blowing smoke.”

“Where you really a world class surfer in your twenties or are you just blowing smoke?”

The origin lies in magic after all: magicians often use smoke in their performance to conceal a bit of trickery.  If you are blowing smoke you are trying to trick somebody and cover it up.