Antedating of "Yada Yada"

Fri May 23 21:10:20 UTC 2008

        I believe that "Yatata Yatata Yatata" was one of the songs in
the 1947 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Allegro.  The lyrics, under the
title "Cocktail Party," seem to be at

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Benjamin Zimmer
Sent: Friday, May 23, 2008 4:24 PM
Subject: Re: Antedating of "Yada Yada"

On Fri, May 23, 2008 at 4:12 PM, I wrote:
> On Fri, May 23, 2008 at 4:01 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at>
>> 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
> 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
> '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 yattata-yattata.
> ----
> But 1948 still predates those.

And earlier still is "yatata yatata yatata" in William Saroyan's 1947
play "Jim
Dandy: Fat Man in a Famine", cited in _Dictionary of American Slang_ and
this Slate article: <>.

--Ben Zimmer

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