The common noun simply means nonsense or, to put it another way, bosh. The Brits might say rubbish or, more daringly, balls.
In the mid 1800s, Americans coined “poppycock” likely from the Dutch pappekak. As an amateur entomologist, I believe it translates from the Dutch pappe (soft food) and Dutch kak (derived from Latin for dung) to mean soft poop or, more bluntly, bullshit.
Senior Editor Nicki Porter used the word “poppycock” in the opening column of the August 2017 issue of The Writer. In the next sentence, she confessed how ridiculous the word looked on the page, but maintained no other word would have sufficed to make her point.
I rarely come across the word “poppycock” in reading or in conversation. I was mildly delighted to see it in print. Porter’s column defended memoir as a relevant genre despite rampant attacks of the art form. She called “poppycock” on the critics.
I agree with Porter, sometimes, “poppycock” is the best word to call out crap. “Poppycock” has just the right air of condescension. In other times, a quiet hogwash, a firm bunk, or, an equally ridiculous, balderdash might do.