A humbug is a person or object that behaves in a deceptive or dishonest way, often as a hoax or in jest. The term was first described in 1751 as student slang, and recorded in 1840 as a “nautical phrase”. It is now also often used as an exclamation to mean nonsense or gibberish.
When referring to a person, a humbug means a fraud or impostor, implying an element of unjustified publicity and spectacle. In modern usage, the word is most associated with Ebenezer Scrooge, a character created by Charles Dickens. His famous reference to Christmas, “Bah! Humbug!”, declaring Christmas to be a fraud, is commonly used in stage and television versions of A Christmas Carol and also appeared frequently in the original book. The word is also prominently used in The Wizard of Oz, where the wizard describes himself as “just a humbug.”