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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Sep 02, 2007 10:35 pm

• la-di-da •

Pronunciation: lah-dee-dahHear it!

Part of Speech: Interjection, etc.

Meaning: An interjection that derides someone affecting superiority, showing off, who is flaunting their wealth or otherwise acting condescending or supercilious.

Notes: Most speakers stick with using today's word as a derisive interjection, especially when we see something showy: "Well, la-di-da, aren't we all dressed up for the occasion?" But, as we see in the next section, others exploit it more thoroughly.

In Play: Although today's Good Word is used by far most widely as an interjection, because it is a bit of silliness, speakers do not hesitate to use it as a noun, adjective, or verb when it pleases them: "Marvin found some la-di-da heiress in New York and left me for her!" If you feel you must write such expressions, remember to always add an apostrophe before -s (la-di-da's) and an H before other suffixes: "Malcom la-di-dahed his way through Harvard but the job on Wall Street has reduced his hat size by quite a bit."

Word History: Some of you might remember the 1940s when swell was a slang adjective meaning "great, just fine". Well, swell was originally a derogatory term that arose in the 18th century and originally referred to those members of the upper class who puff themselves up, acting superior to others. Since lard was at the time one of the main causes of human swelling, a rhyme compound, lardy-dardy, created on the model of such words as roly-poly, helter-skelter, and dilly-dally, emerged in British slang. When this word came to North America, it was soon reduced to today's Good Word.
• The Good Dr. Goodword

Jeff hook
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Postby Jeff hook » Mon Sep 03, 2007 12:29 pm

(I added some notes to my copy of this issue of the newsletter, before I saved it, and I thought I'd share them with you. I'll skip the details of the "physical postures" which were involved in my earliest experience of this phrase. Attempting to describe them *is* far more than "a little over the top"... )

My first exposure to this expression goes back to my boyhood in the 1950s and early '60s. It seemed to be popular with girls of my age, and I may have first heard it from them, perhaps in the lowest grades of elementary school. It must be understood that I was the type of guy who was primarily interested in turning rocks over to see what type of "creatures" might be hiding under them. I was fully content, generally, to poke around in that way, as an observer, rather than as a participant. The use of this phrase was "surprising," to understate its effect on me.

This phrase wasn't merely *spoken* as much as it was *performed*. Depending on their theatrical aptitude, the girls who used this expression might even cycle through an entire *series* of affected poses which I assume were intended to mimic the stances of fashion models, who expected to be photographed, or celebrities who acted as if they'd been surprised by photographers. I suppose the "performers" were imagining the popping of "flashbulbs." To a bug-hunting 5 year-old, this was all pretty overwhelming, and bewildering, but I was in the habit, at the time, of simply interpreting such phenomena by concluding, "Hey, that's what girls like to do," and going back to turning rocks over.

This expression is so deeply associated in my mind with the concepts of "putting on airs," and with "affecting elegance," or with actually enjoying status, luxury, success, wealth, etc. that it's difficult for me to accept that it might have originated in an association of body fat with prosperity. I'm sure the etymology's well documented, but, by the time I first became aware of this phrase it was "a social phenomenon," linked to behavior and to concepts rather than to "physical amplitude."

("Thanks Bailey, I needed that...")

Jeff Hook
Last edited by Jeff hook on Mon Sep 03, 2007 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Bailey » Mon Sep 03, 2007 5:41 pm


mark who-could-add-to-that? Bailey

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Postby sluggo » Tue Sep 04, 2007 11:48 pm

Point of order: of what Doc hath writ, this here part's got me flummoxed:

Dr. Goodword wrote:.... If you feel you must write such expressions, remember to always add an apostrophe before -s (la-di-da's ...)

- this goes against everything I've ever heard. Would just like to know upon what basis we might denote a plural via apostrophe.

Indeed, the very next sentence reverts to the standard:
Dr. Goodword wrote:Some of you might remember the 1940s ...

Is the idea to interject the nearest available diacritical just to set off the vowel for the reader? I cannot read this as anything but la-di-da is.

Meanwhile an interesting hunt could be made for pretentiousness-flagging synonyms here; the late Chris Farley's overblown "well whoop-de-frickin' doo" comes to mind.
Stop! Murder us not, tonsured rumpots! Knife no one, fink!

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