Ish Kabbible

J. Eulenberg eulenbrg at U.WASHINGTON.EDU
Mon Jan 5 01:17:48 UTC 2004

Way down at the bottom of one of your recent posts on Americanese
(; fr. 19 June 1938, Sunday Times-Signal, Zanesville,
OH): "Ish kabbible" shows up in Harlemese section, although with its
Yiddish roots acknowledged.  "I should worry" is probably fairly close
translation -- we'll check with our 96-year old "authority" later this

But more to the point, Ish Kabbible virtually fled into America's hearts
in the 1940s as the stage name for Merwyn Bogue, who died as recently as
1994.  He played the cornet in Kay Kyser's Big Band, as part of the Kay
Kyser Kollege of Musical Knowledge.  Ish Kabbible was the slightly addled
comic relief side kick of Kyser.  Truth be said, Americans had already
become acquainted with the concept of Ish Kabibble.

<>, in its archives,
attributes the side kick's name to a popular song by Sam Lewis (pub 1913)
called "Isch Gabibble," or "I Should Worry."  See site for lyrics.  1914,
the comic strip "Abie the Agent" by Harry Hershfield debuted.  The little
spy's name was Abie Kabibble.  The site suggests that the phrase was
already popular slang for "who cares" in the early 1900s, but can't trace
it further back than that.  My husband suggests Yiddish vaudeville.  We'll
try to confirm that with the older lady!

Julia Niebuhr Eulenberg <eulenbrg at>

More information about the Ads-l mailing list