toodle-something

credit: twistynoodle
Fifteen years! That's how long this blog has been going. Happy anniversary to me! And thank you all coming along with me on this. 

I've just decided, since I really should be going to bed, that a 15th anniversary calls for a blog post, so I thought I'd share with you something I learned today while searching for 20th-century interjections in the Oxford English Dictionary (as one does).

My first surprise was to discover that the leave-taking expression Toodles! is the same age as me. (Which is to say, the OED's first example of its use is from 1965.) But my second surprise was to discover that it's an AmE expression—the first example was from an episode of Gidget, the all-American Sally-Field-on-a-surfboard sitcom.

This was a surprise to me for two reasons:

(1)  the expression it abbreviates, toodle-oo,  is British in origin. The first OED citation is from the magazine Punch in 1907, followed by lots of citations in British Literature (T. E. Lawrence, P. G. Wodehouse, Dorothy Sayers). There's more about it at phrases.co.uk.

(2) I think of abbreviations ending in -s as a much more British than American thing, as I wrote about almost FIFTEEN YEARS AGO.

But what's less surprising to me is that the OED marks it as "U.S. colloquial (frequently humorous)', because what's more amusing to Americans than words that sound British? And what's more British to Americans than words that sound a bit silly?

 

 

I tweeted about this yesterday and now I get to surprise all the people who replied to ask if toodles came from the BrE toodle-pip. On the contrary, the evidence of toodle-pip (actually tootle-pip at that point) only starts in 1977. It blends two older slangy goodbyes toodle-oo and pip-pip, both on evidence here in this Wodehouse quote (the first OED citation for pip-pip in the 'goodbye' sense).

1919   P. G. Wodehouse Damsel in Distress x. 125   ‘Well, it's worth trying,’ said Reggie. ‘I'll give it a whirl. Toodleoo!’ ‘Good-bye.’ ‘Pip-pip!’ Reggie withdrew.

Incidentally, a contemporary of toodle-oo and pip-pip is cheerio, whose first citation is from 1914 ("Cheeryo, as we say in the navy", in a letter from the poet Rupert Brooke.) In 2014, a flurry of media stories made a very big deal of the fact that cheerio is not said as much in the early 21st century, framing its downfall as a loss of "Britishness" that was most probably Americans' fault. Well, if the sense of national self is based on Edwardian-era linguistic fads, then why is no one up in arms about pip-pip and toodle-oo? (The cheerio media coverage is something I rant about in The Prodigal Tongue.)

This choice of topic might give the impression that I'm saying goodbye. As if fifteen years was enough? You've got to be kidding. I've got years of blogging in me yet. It's tricky to find time for it, especially since I've taken on even more work responsibilities this year. But just because I'm quiet sometimes doesn't mean I'm not here. Hasta la vista, amigos! Pip pip!
 

22 comments

  1. "Toodles"?!  I've never heard that before!
    I do use "cheerio" a fair bit, and occasionally "toodle-o", I think, but "pip pip" strikes me as absurdly dated, and I'd only use it for humorous effect.
    Do Americans ever say "right-o", or "righty-ho", for "yes", I wonder?
    Or is that just another pesky Britishism?
    Muchly congrats on the anniversary, Lynne, by the way!
    Hurrah and yippee!
    Here's to the next fifteen.

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  2. Pip pip sounds like Mary Poppins speak to me. Like morning, Guvnah.

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  3. Congratulations on the blogiversary!

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  4. Simon Koppel26 May, 2021 09:37

    The OED might only have "toodle-pip" from 1977, but a quick search in the British Newspaper Archive shows it being used from as early as 1931, in a passage that seems eminently suitable for a blog comments section:

    "And now, if you’ll forgive me. I’ll retire. I’m off out for bite. If any of you blighters want to ask any more questions, ask one another. Toodle-pip!" (Rugby Advertiser, 10 April 1931, page 10)

    Congrats on the blogiversary. I'm a little surprised not to see the "-versary" suffix in OED.

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  5. And now I have an earworm in the form of the song Be Back Soon from Lionel Bart's wonderful 1960 musical Oliver!, which includes the following multiple times:

    So long, fare thee well
    Pip pip! Cheerio!

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  6. Weirdly, the online Merriam-Webster dictionary contains no entry at all for toodles. It has one for tootles, but the meaning is entirely different.

    Anyway, congrats on entertaining all of us for 15 years. That's not easy to do online!

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  7. Congratulations on 15 years! I can't remember when I first found your blog, but it's been quite a while.

    And now, a silly confession: For some time I mentally pronounced the second syllable of Lynneguist to rhyme with 'guise' or as in the German 'Geist.' The penny dropped eventually....

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  8. @Dick Hartzell, even the unabridged M-W (which requires a subscription - my employer has one - and is a completely separate site) has no entry for "toodles." Very suprising.

    And congratulations, Lynne!

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  9. Yes indeed - congratulations on 15 years of blogging - and you are still finding differences between AmE and BrE.
    I (British) agree with all the comments made by Grhm above. I have never heard of ‘toodles’ and would only say toodle-oo or toodle-pip as a heavy-handed attempt at retro slang ... but I say Cheerio all the time when leaving people.
    Some people use Cheerio (instead of Cheers) when taking a drink, and I associate that with early 20th century toffs, or perhaps naval officers!

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  10. Two points in passing.

    * Duke Ellington's "East St Louis Toodle-oo", written in 1926, clearly isn't the original but had crossed the Atlantic by then, probably via PG Wodehouse.

    * An informal farewell in Scots Gaelic is Tioraidh, which, and you may have to take my word for it, is pronounced pretty much like "Cheery".

    I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

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  11. Congratulations by the way. Here's to the next fifteen!

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  12. Many congratulations on 15 years! I've been following for most, if not all of them, and look forward to the next 15!

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    Replies
    1. And oh dear, the little box to tick "Notify me" of further comments seems to have disappeared. Bother.

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  13. Rachael Churchill31 May, 2021 14:39

    I would have guessed Toodles was American because the only time I've heard it is spoken by the hyenas in The Lion King.

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    Replies
    1. On the TV series Wynonna Earp, made in Canada but set, I believe, in the US, one of the characters was pretending to be a British scientist and was attempting a British accent. As she left, she said "Toodles" and outside her girlfriend suggests that was going a bit far.

      As it happens, the actress attempting the British accent was actually born in the UK.

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  14. When it comes to Gidget, I only know the 1959 movie starring Sandra Dee.

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  15. I'm sure I remember my late mother (b. 1905) occasionally saying "toodlepip" in the 1950s; but then, she was a palimpsest of jokes and catch-phrases going back to her mother's (b.1873) time. I still come out with some of them to surprise the youngsters.

    Are you familiar with the song from WW1:

    Goodbyee! Goodbyee!
    Wipe the tear, baby dear, from your eye-ee.
    Though it's hard to part I know
    I'll be tickled to death to go.
    Goodbyee! Goodbyee!
    There's a silver lining in the sky-ee:
    Bonsoir, chin-chin,
    Cheerio old thing.
    Napoo*, toodle-oo, goodbyee!

    *I think this was a soldiers' corruption of the French "(Il) n'y a plus" (cf. the phrase San Fairy Ann - "Ça ne fait rien" - which had a vogue for a while).

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  16. According to the Wikipedia entry on this song, Toodle-oo is a corruption of ‘toute a l’heure’

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    Replies
    1. And ‘toodle-pip’ would be an English corruption of that!

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Abbr.

AmE = American English
BrE = British English
OED = Oxford English Dictionary (online)