boondoggle

[boon-dog-uhl, -daw-guhl]
noun
1.
a product of simple manual skill, as a plaited leather cord for the neck or a knife sheath, made typically by a camper or a scout.
2.
work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
3.
a project funded by the federal government out of political favoritism that is of no real value to the community or the nation.
verb (used with object), boondoggled, boondoggling.
4.
to deceive or attempt to deceive: to boondoggle investors into a low-interest scheme.
verb (used without object), boondoggled, boondoggling.
5.
to do work of little or no practical value merely to keep or look busy.

Origin:
1930–35, Americanism; said to have been coined by R. H. Link, American scoutmaster, as name for def 1

boondoggler, noun
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
boondoggle (ˈbuːnˌdɒɡəl)
 
vb
1.  (intr) to do futile and unnecessary work
 
n
2.  a futile and unnecessary project or work
 
[C20: said to have been coined by R. H. Link, American scoutmaster]
 
'boondoggler
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

boondoggle
1935, Amer.Eng., of uncertain origin, popularized during the New Deal as a contemptuous word for make-work projects for the unemployed. Said to have been a pioneer word for "gadget."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Trust me, it's going to be a boondoggle of breathtaking proportions.
Construction has been stalled while critics and proponents debated whether the
  undertaking was a boon or a boondoggle.
And, once again, critics insist that the entire project is a costly boondoggle
  and should be abandoned.
But this is also the program that catapulted the word boondoggle into common
  political usage.
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