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To blag something is to persuade someone to give something to you by a convincing manner, or at least one that is cheekily plausible. Examples include:

“I blagged 20 quid off my dad, so I’ll buy the next round,” “They’d run out of main courses so I blagged some free cakes,” “My mate’s doing catering at the festival next week and he’s managed to blag us a couple of tickets. Want to come?”

The essence of blagging is to come up with a convoluted reason why, really, you are entitled to the thing you are asking for. The victim might just fall for the explanation, and even if not, they might think it easier to accede to your request than to argue the point.

Someone experienced in the art is a blagger: “Kevin was let off that parking fine. He’s a real blagger.” The description usually suggests envious admiration: Why does this other person go through life being showered with free favors, which the speaker has to pay for? But everyone likes him anyway. After all, charm is part of the blagger’s arsenal.

The word dates from about 1930. It’s probably from an earlier sense of “blag” meaning robbery with violence; somewhere along the line, the violence has been replaced by a charm offensive. The origins of the latter meaning are unknown. Blag also may be related to “blague,” meaning pretentious humbug, from a French word.

Mark Wainwright is a freelance writer living in Cambridge. Got a question about something you’ve seen or heard around the United Kingdom? E-mail us at:

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