A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, or rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences or April Fools’ Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes.
The British philologist Robert Nares (1753–1829) says that the word hoax was coined in the late 18th century as a contraction of the verb hocus, which means “to cheat”, “to impose upon” or “to befuddle often with drugged liquor”. Hocus is a shortening of the magic incantation hocus pocus, which in turn is a contraction of the phrase Hocus pocus, tontus talontus, vade celeriter jubeo, mentioned in Thomas Ady’s 1656 book A candle in the dark, or a treatise on the nature of witches and witchcraft. According to the book, the Latin-like gibberish phrase was uttered by a conjuror to distract his audience from his sleight of hand.
Alternatively, hoax could have been derived from the Irish Gaelic olcas, pronounced olkəs and h…


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