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Posted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 11:11 pm
by Dr. Goodword
• diddly-squat •

Pronunciation: did-li-skwaht • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: (US Slang) Next to nothing, something worthless, or even nothing at all.

Notes: This odd bit of US slang contain two words that are nearly synonyms of each other and the compound they appear in. "He didn't do diddly," "He didn't do squat," and "He didn't do diddly-squat," all mean pretty much the same, except that the compound is a bit more emphatic.

In Play: Another interesting aspect of today's word is that, since it refers to something worthless or nothing at all, negating it has very little impact on its meaning: "Lionel Trane did diddly-squat while he was president of the Erie Railroad," means very nearly the same as, "Lionel Trane didn't do diddly-squat while he was president of the Erie Railroad." Nothing and next to nothing are not very far apart.

Word History: Today's Good Word is a US variation of the original doodly-squat, which first began appearing in print in the 1930s. This compound arose from the image of someone squatting and doodling on the ground beneath them—as pretty a picture of time-wasting nonaccomplishment as anyone can imagine. The confusion of doodle with diddle "to fool around, dawdle" that led to diddly-squat is easily understood. But in the 1960s, this word took a turn for the worse: the association of squatting with defecation led to the unspeakable variation, diddly-s—t, containing a word US radio and TV networks are fined $300,000 for if it slips by their censors. This called for a euphemism which was simple enough: just drop the offensive word and, voilà: diddly. (Today we thank Sue Russell for doing more than diddly-squat when she came across this word in her local newspaper, to wit, for suggesting it as a Good Word.)

Posted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:08 pm
by LukeJavan8
The Christian Gospels speak of the Christ as
squatting and doodling something on the ground.
Apparently it was not diddly-squat for them to take
the time to record such action.

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:44 pm
by sluggo
See also Bupkis.

We could do with more of these synonyms for nothingness -- :wink:

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:34 pm
by saparris
We could do with more of these synonyms for nothingness
And would we then be engaging in floccinaucinihilipilification--or just doing diddly-squat?