Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon May 12 00:56:40 UTC 2008

On Fri, Apr 25, 2008 at 9:38 AM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Rev. Jeremiah Wright sez  [http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-wright-speaks_bothapr25,1,5539940.story]:
>  "When something is taken like a sound bite for a political purpose and put constantly over and
> over again, looped in the face of the public, that's not a failure to communicate. Those who are
> doing that are communicating exactly what they want to do, which is to paint me as some sort
> of fanatic or as the learned journalist from The New York Times called me, a 'wackadoodle.' "
>  Maureen Dowd used the word to describe Wright a few weeks back.
>  HDAS files include several "w(h)ackadoo" back to 1979, but no "w(h)ackadoodle."  A Google
> search, however, shows it to be fairly common. Also "w(h)ackydoodle."
>  For the culturally unsophisticated, Roger Miller had a big hit in 1965 with his song "Do Wacka
> Do," where the nonsense syllables were just that.  Clarence Gaskill, Wil Donaldson and George
> Horther get the blame for the 1924 smash with the oddly similar title "Doo Wacka Doo."
>  Anyway, "wackadoodle" and its ilk clearly owe much to Miller et al., plus "w(h)acky."
>  There was even a 1962 recording of "Doo Wacka Doo" by a group called The Wackadoodlers.

Safire's derivation in his latest "On Language" column is untroubled
by this pop history:

The adjective, growing in usage with about 9,000 Google hits, takes
its first syllable from _wacky_ — that is, "far-out, eccentric, off
the wall" — possibly from "out of whack." The _doodle_ ending has a
four-century etymology as "simpleton," including the derogatory
"Yankee Doodle."

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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