Antedating of "Yada Yada"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri May 23 20:12:37 UTC 2008

On Fri, May 23, 2008 at 4:01 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at> wrote:
> The OED's first use of "yada yada" and its variants is a1967 from Lenny Bruce.
> The site has earlier evidence, citing "an August 1948 edition
> of the Long Beach Independent":
> "Yatata ... yatata ... the talk is all about Chatterbox, Knox's own little
> Tomboy Cap with the young, young come-on look!"
> Presumably the precise citation could be found by searching Newspaperarchive.

OED has pre-Bruce variants in the etymology section of "yada yada":

1949 Sat. Evening Post 27 Aug. 98/4 ‘Back-seat flying,’ Mike would grumble.
‘Always the yaddega-yaddega from the back seat’.
1950 Time 30 Oct. 100/3 Though Right Cross's ring scenes are pretty well staged,
it is a boxing picture with too much yatata and not enough sock.
1956 Holland (Mich.)Evening Sentinel 4 Feb. 6/6 (caption) You heard about her
husband, didn't you? He won a trip to Bermuda... Well, he didn't tell her, and

But 1948 still predates those.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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