Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Fri Apr 8 12:52:03 UTC 2005

In my limited experience, "ups-a-daisy" (sic) is more common.  Even in the '50s, I'm pretty sure I heard "alley-oop" solely in old movies.

"Alley Oop" is best known, I think, as the name of a famous caveman.


Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Benjamin Zimmer
Subject: Re: Alley-Oop

On Fri, 8 Apr 2005 00:34:12 +0200, Christine Waigl wrote:

>Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>>Actually, Googling suggests that "allez hop" is a more common spelling in
>>French than "...houp" ("allez hop" is also the form borrowed into German
>>and Dutch).
>I agree. I've never seen it spelled anything but "allez hop" in
>(contemporary) French.
>(A conflation with "(allez) ouste", maybe? "Allez" can stand on its own
>as an interjection.)

Well, MWCD11 says it's a combination of French "allez" and English "-oop",
perhaps an alteration of "up". I don't see why it couldn't have derived
from "allez" + "houp", if those interjections were used in conjunction (as
in Conrad's "Allez! Houp!"). But if "allez hop" was more of a fixed
expression, then perhaps the final syllable was transformed to "oop" in
English renderings under influence from interjections like "houp(-la)",
"whoop", "oops-a-daisy", etc. I can see how there may have been secondary
influence from "up" (with "oop" as a dialectal form, as in "Oop North"?),
since the interjection was associated with lifting up things or people.

Where's a philologically inclined French trapeze artist when you need one?

--Ben Zimmer

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