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toodle-oo

Printable Version Pronunciation: tu-d'l-u Hear it!

Part of Speech: Interjection

Meaning: (Snobbishly colloquial) Good-bye.

Notes: Today's Good Word still pops up occasionally, especially in the UK, though it is more closely associated with the upper classes in the UK and US at the turn of the 20th century. Of course, if you are in a big hurry, you can shorten this interjection to simply, "Tootles!" In Ireland, where the expression may have first arisen, it is tooral-oo, as in Irish Lullaby: "Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li?."

In Play: Today it sounds a bit silly to most speakers of English, but it can add a touch of cheeriness to a departure. I find it fun to use with children: "OK, boys and girls, I have to go now. Toodle-oo!" Anywhere you may say "Good-bye" you can add a touch of humor by using today's Good Word instead: "Harvey is a wonderful lad, but be sure to say, 'Tootle-oo!' if he mentions the pictures of his grandchildren."

Word History: Although some writers have tried to associate today's Good Word with toddle, as in the British expression "to toddle off", a better guess is that it is a corruption of à tout à l'heure "see you soon". The word arose at the turn of the 20th century and was popularized in the stories of P. G. Wodehouse built around the characters of Jeeves and Wooster. Wooster was a ne'er-do-well who spent much of his time in the upper-class clubs and salons where he felt obliged to speak the "jive" of the time. He always exited with a "toodle-oo" or "pip-pip" or even a "toodle-pip". He and his friends would have picked up a the odd French expression in that milieu. (Before we say, "Toodle-oo" to Raven Edwards, let's thank her for suggesting this cute little denizen of the English lexicon as a Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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