"Let me noodle it"

Gregory {Greg} Downing gd2 at IS2.NYU.EDU
Wed Jan 24 21:45:47 UTC 2001

At 03:58 PM 1/24/2001 +0800, Larry wrote:
>At 3:18 PM -0500 1/24/01, Siddharth Suri wrote:
>>"Let me noodle it"
>>Someone said this to me today and I was curious if anyone knows
>>where this expression originated from.
>I'd guess it means 'consider, think about', and that it's a
>zero-derivation from "noodle" as a noun = 'head, brain, mind'.  Now
>as for the origin of this, the AHD4 suggests it was an alteration of
>"noddle", which is a Middle English word for the head.

Hence one hears "to noodle (around) with" = to mess around with, informally
experiment with, tinker with, i.e., I've always assumed (note the
disclaimer), using one's *head* to do so. In more specialized usage, people
often use "to noodle" in application to musical playing that the user of the
verb views as aimless or unmusical, if perhaps highly skillful in technical,
mechanical ways. E.g.: "He can really play guitar, but his solos are nothing
but noodling." (Synonym: to wank, which we all know from elsewhere.)

The one thing that strikes me about Siddharth's example is that I do not
happen to have heard the verb construed as transitive. But there's no reason
why a transitive contruction wouldn't have emerged quite naturally. And now
I bet someone will now post tons of evidence to the list of "to noodle"
taking a direct object!

Greg Downing, at greg.downing at nyu.edu or gd2 at is2.nyu.edu

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