Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, has carried out a review of energy companies’ pricing practices. The review found that competition is being stifled by a combination of tariff complexity, poor supplier behaviour, and lack of transparency. The Chief Executive said:

Consumers have told us that energy suppliers’ prices are too complicated. It is no surprise that they are bamboozled when tariff complexity has increased from 180 to more than 300 since 2008.

I do a lot of translation and editing work in the energy field. Few, if any, of the texts I work with come anywhere near Ofgem’s in terms of clarity and ease of understanding. But what I’m really tickled about in this press release is the use of the word “bamboozled”. Here’s the etymology, courtesy of the Online Etymology Dictionary:


1703, originally a slang or cant word, perhaps Scottish from bombaze “perplex,” related to bombast, or Fr. embabuiner “to make a fool (lit. ‘baboon’) of.” Related: Bamboozled; bamboozling.

I simply can’t imagine any of my institutional clients in Italy using an equivalent Italian word in their literature. And here’s a question for Italian-speakers: what would that equivalent be? Let us know in the comments!

By Marian Dougan

6 Responses to “Bewitched, bothered, bewildered and bamboozled”  

  1. 1 Val

    Haha 😉
    I would go for either ‘perplesso’, a bocca aperta or for the real thing that I assumed translates ‘bamboozled’ better: ‘imbambolati’ (from ‘bambola’). We could also assume the customers feel ‘ripped-off’ so one may want to use ‘abbindolati’. But that would mean changing/rearranging the sentence or it’s meaning a bit.

  2. 2 wordstogoodeffect

    “Abbindolati” is a new one for it – I like it!

  3. 3 Laura

    Also “turlupinati” (and “fregati”, but this seems definitely not good for a formal/institutional context!)

  4. 4 wordstogoodeffect

    Thanks! As for “fregati” – it would be so refreshing to see that in an institutional text. If the institutional writers were actually to write what they think, for once.

  5. 5 Carmelita Caruana

    I’d translate as “presi in giro”, to me ” since to me bamboozled in this context suggests “cheated”, “ripped off”, “tricked” “deceieved” rather than puzzled or confused.


  6. 6 wordstogoodeffect

    We all clearly have a pretty low opinion of our energy providers! I wonder why.

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