Posted by: Jack Henry | July 11, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Toodles

Greetings Editrix,

I have a friend who keeps telling me, “toodles.” This got me thinking about the less common phrases of farewells and greetings, like “yo,” or “ta-ta.” Do you have any insight on this? And do you have a sillier word than “toodles” that I can one-up her with?

Had Me at Hello

Dear Had Me at Hello,

What a wonderful question! We’ve discussed greetings before, but none of these goodies! As I mentioned in my email back to you, I think toodleoo is the big daddy of toodles. Looking up toodleoo, I see it is spelled several different ways:

· toot-a-loo

· too-da-loo

· toodaloo

· toodle-oo

· toodleoo

I would also add toodles to that list, as an abbreviated version. From the Phrase Finder:

The British term ‘toodle-oo’ is a fellow-traveller of various terms associated with walking or departing in a carefree manner – toddle, tootle and their extended forms toddle-off and tootle-pip. Let’s also not forget tootle-oo, which is a commonly heard alternative form of toodle-oo, and also its Irish variant tooraloo.

Tootle is a variant of toddle, both meaning ‘walk in a leisurely manner’. Toddle, which is really the base word which leads eventually to toodle-oo, is moderately old and makes an appearance in print in Allan Ramsay’s The tea-table miscellany, or a collection of Scots songs, 1724:

"Could na my love come todlen hame." [toddling home]

The word is still with us in the term ‘toddle off’ which, although somewhat archaic in sound, is still commonplace in the UK at least.

In French class, I heard that all of those words were from a misspoken French phrase “à tout à l’heure” which essentially means “see you later.” My research did not lead me to any definite answer about the verity of that etymology.

I did find some other ways to say goodbye, all listed as informal. Two were British: ta-ta and pip-pip. Ta-ta is also spelled about six different ways and I couldn’t find an etymology for it. Pip-pip is supposed to be from the early 1900s and is a “slangy salutation” that is supposed to be the imitation of a bicycle horn noise.

I also found an Australian way to say goodbye: hooroo or ooroo. According to Wikipedia, these are from the words hooray or hurray. (Apparently, the Australians were very excitable and used hooray to mean goodbye, too.)

I notice a lot of people use terms from other languages to say goodbye, and I think the average American knows that they mean goodbye, even if they can’t pinpoint the language. Some of these are:

· Adieu (French)

· Au revoir (French)

· Ciao (Italian)

· Adios (Spanish)

· Sayonara (Japanese)

More tomorrow! Until then, hooroo!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

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