Thursday, October 22, 2015

Vamoose again

Vamoose again

I had assumed last week’s post on words meaning scram would be a one-shot deal, but so many friends wrote in with scram-related phrases and words I hadn’t covered that I’ve got to keep going.

Bruce suggested the term di di, in use by the American military during the Viet Nam War (aka Police Action). Di di is a direct borrowing from Vietnamese, though in Viet Nam both di di, get out of here & di di mau, get out of here pronto, are considered impolite ways to ask someone to beat feet (an idiom suggested by both Bruce & my friend Sioux).

Beat feet is an idiom that appears to have originated in American prisons or among American police, though nobody seems to be working very hard at finding its first use.

Bruce also suggested let’s split a phrase first used in American slang in 1954. Split comes from Middle English & originally meant to divide two things or remove something, which suggests the idiom let’s split may be more literal that figurative. A clearly related idiom suggested by another pal, Betsy, is the term splitsville, a word I find in use in many places, but I can find no background in it. First used when? First used where? Nada.

Betsy also suggested feets don’t’ fail me now, which appears to have been a line used regularly in vaudeville. Though it was employed to poke fun at black dialect, it appears the term may have been authentic. Feets don’t’ fail me now was embraced by actor Manton Moreland in the 1940s & was used in songs by Blind Lemon Jefferson, Herbie Hancock, & Little Feat.

And my pal Sioux came up with let’s blow this popsicle stand, which is similarly un-researched, though the phrase did appear in a Mork and Mindy episode & in a Richard Dreyfus movie. Apparently the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were also fond of the phrase. Also of interest, there may be a regional element at work, as the idioms let’s blow this pop stand & let’s blow this taco stand are used to mean the same thing.

Please leave a comment or two about all this in the comments section. Me? I’m splitsville.

Big thanks to this week’s sources: Wordnik, Etymonline, Straight Dope, Glossary of Military Terms, the OED.

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