Though these days the term wordmonger refers to "a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly," please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The final vamoose

The final vamoose

This post will cover some vamoose synonyms submitted by friends after the first vamoose post, yet not covered in the second vamoose post.

Pal Gwen suggested scat, which arrived in 1838 meaning go away. Scat is an abbreviation of an 1800s phrase, quicker than s’cat. Though nobody’s certain, the s preceding the cat may have represented the sound of the cat hissing as it skedaddled.

Betsy suggested burn rubber, an idiom that showed up in the mid-1900s in reference to cars accelerating before their tires caught up with them. A related term is lay some rubber.

Another idiom Betsy suggested is make like a ghost. Though I find multiple uses of this phrase in digital forums, I am finding no commentary regarding its origin. Maybe some hardworking etymologist did the research, then all his/her work made like a ghost.

Hit the Road, suggested by Sioux, showed up in the language in 1873. This idiom was celebrated with the addition of Jack in 1960 in a song written by Percy Mayfield & made famous by Ray Charles.

Sioux also came up with take a hike, which is considered a pejorative directive. Though the idiom take a hike seems to have appeared in the last fifty years, the solo word hike was used in the early 1800s with the same contemptuous sense.

Book it, suggested by Sami, has been around in that particular form since the 1970s & appears to be an abbreviation of bookity-book, an echoic representation of shoes running on a hard surface, first recorded in a 1935 Zora Neale Hurston story.

Here’s hoping you’ll comment regarding all these vamoose synonyms before you hit the road.

Big thanks to this week’s sources: Wordnik, Etymonline, The Free Dictionary,, & the OED.


  1. I was in high school in Rome when Ray Charles Hit the Road Jack was #1. (Yes, I'm that old) and I remember trying to explain to my Italian friends that hitting the strada did not involve a sledgehammer applied to pavement. "Hit the Road" has always sounded funny to me since then. (Still a great song, though, isn't it?)

  2. Idioms in translation? Always a challenge, And yes, it's a great song.

  3. Sssoooo, aaahhh, how come we Americaners have more words/phrases for going away than Eskimos have for snow?

  4. Hi Steve - While finding all these I pondered that same question. Might our embracing of Manifest Destiny have also spawned an appreciation for skedaddling?

  5. I had the same thought. So many idioms for "go away". I wonder how many we could come up with for "come here"? These are all pretty wonderful though!

  6. Hey Christine,
    Our old writing pal Bruce & I just discussed this. It's an intriguing thought. We were trying to come up with idioms for "we have arrived" & came up with nada.