More on Kemosabe

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Fri Feb 15 17:17:52 UTC 2008

Is there any evidence for "kemo" = 'secret'?

m a m

On Fri, Feb 15, 2008 at 11:59 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:

> The following seems a pretty obvious speculation, but Cecil does not
> mention it.  There is in the OED "sabe n.  ...  slang (orig.U.S.)  =
> savvy n.  1872 B. Harte in Atlantic Monthly Mar. 352/2 Did n't hev no
> more sabe than to come round yar with sickness in the house and no
> provision.  1892 Kipling & Balestier Naulahka 273 You have been
> romping around for six months after something you hadn't the sabe to
> hold when you'd got.  1913 J. London Valley of Moon 311 We ain't got
> the sabe, or the knack, or something or other.
> How about "kemosabe" = secret knowledge -- that is, someone who has
> knowledge of things not known to others?  A scout.
> One might also speculate about the name Kamp Kee-Mo Sah-Bee:  Appeal
> to insiders -- we have special knowledge that you don't.
> Joel

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list