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BUPKIS

Posted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 11:17 pm
by Dr. Goodword
• bupkis •

Pronunciation: bêp-kês • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural).

Meaning: (Slang) Absolutely nothing, diddly, squat, zip, zilch, nada.

Notes: Today's Good Word is another kindly donation from Yiddish heard mostly in the northern tier and western slab of the US. Since this is a slang word, spoken more than written, the spelling hovers around bupkiss, bupkes, bupkus, and bupkis. Bupkis seems to be the most widely used currently. This word is a lexical orphan, not even a bupkisness to parallel nothingness. It is just there, all but lost among the host of other slang alternatives to nothing.

In Play: We still hear this word more frequently in the Jewish community: "After pulling the company back from the brink of bankruptcy I didn't get diddly for my effort and my Jewish friend got bubkis." However, it has long since entered the general vocabulary: "Hadley is the greatest asset of the investment firm but he isn't worth bubkis around the house."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from rather smelly origins. Its ultimate source is the Russian word bobok "bean". However, the sense of it that reached English is a reduction of the Yiddish word kozebupkes "goat pellets, droppings". This word, in turn, is a compound comprising the Russian words koza "goat" + bobki "little beans". The root koz- survives only in Slavic languages, where it did render up kozha "skin, hide", originally referring only goat skin. Bob "bean" shares its origin with Latin faba "bean", which became Italian fava of fava bean fame after years of phonetic grinding. (Today we thank Roger Kyle for suggesting a word whose origin gets everyone's goat.)

Bubkis?

Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 11:29 am
by dougsmit
While spelling is discussed, the option "bubkis" is used twice in the text but not mentioned in the discussion of spelling.

Perhaps it is excessive but when I was a child and used the term with some regularity we always said "diddly-squat" rather than either of the components separately. I have heard them separately but prefer the option with "plenty of nothing".

Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 10:50 pm
by gailr
Perhaps Doctor Goodword meant that while bupkis is the original pronunciation, bubkis is a regional variant? :)

Re: BUPKIS

Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2007 10:14 pm
by sluggo
Dr. Goodword wrote:..."I didn't get diddly for my effort and my Jewish friend got bubkis."
Interesting juxtaposition of the negative form didn't get diddly with got bupkis. I would have thought they should agree but I guess as far as rules on this we ain't got squat.

So? Look who's the newest Grand Damejamminem already.
Who knew? You should live so long!

Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 6:54 am
by Perry
So? Look who's the newest Grand Damejamminem already.
Who knew? You should live so long!
Yes. I just managed to beat her to it by a hair...I mean by a feather. :wink:

Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 12:37 pm
by sluggo
Perry wrote:
So? Look who's the newest Grand Damejamminem already.
Who knew? You should live so long!
Yes. I just managed to beat her to it by a hair...I mean by a feather. :wink:
Oy! Congrats all around.