• : foolish or untrue words or ideas.
  • : writing, music, etc., that is too dramatic or sentimental and not very original.


I’ve come across this word in the reading excerpt “City Limits”. This word can be found in the sentence “That Canal Street used to be a canal. That Bryant Park used to be a reservoir. It’s all hokum”. The following sentence says “I’ve been to Canal Street before and the only time I ever saw a river flow through it was during the last water-main explosion”. In this context the word hokum means untrue words or ideas. From learning what hokum means, I understand that statements about Canal Street and Bryant Park are untrue. The author, Colson Whitehead, mentioned before that “History books and public television documentaries are always trying to tell you all sorts of “facts” about New York”. Whitehead mentions later on in the text “Never listen to what people tell you about old New York, because if you didn’t witness it, it is not a part of your New York and might as well be Jersey”.


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