Hubba-hubba [Was: Aw, naw he di?n'!]

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Nov 16 13:13:53 UTC 2010

There was even a pop song called "Hubba Hubba" copyrighted in 1944.

In general, a "masher" merely tried to ingratiate himself with a woman, to
whom he had not been introduced, by making some chance remark intended
to spark a flirtatious conversation.

He was trying to "make a mash."  That's how my grandmother explained it from
her pre-Wright Bros. understanding.

Legman claimed that the word arose in police circles to designate sexual
offenders who rubbed up against unsuspecting women for a sexual charge
(technically a "frotteur"), but though the word may have been used in that
specific, darker, way there is no evidence to suggest that that was the
original sense.

I too was nonplussed by Victor's use of "innocuous."  I'd say that
"hubba-hubba" is even less obnoxious than the (even more archaic) wolf
whistle because it can be muttered _sotto voce_ to nearby associates.

Possibly the original nuance, as applied to passing females, was "Step right
up, toots!" rather than "You are sooooooo hot!"  In other words, the focus
was the speaker's randiness and self-ballyhooed desirability, rather than
the hearer's attractiveness.


 On Tue, Nov 16, 2010 at 4:06 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Hubba-hubba [Was: Aw, naw he di?n'!]
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Mon, Nov 15, 2010 at 11:37 AM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at>
> wrote:
> >> And here I thought the normal cover was "She's a BADm at th@..."
> Surely, you jest! ;-)
> Toward The End of The War, _hubba-hubba_ for a while, was everywhere:
> movies, the funnies, comic books, etc., etc. I was still a child, back
> in those days, but I had the impression that "hubba-hubba' was no
> bigger a deal than the wolf-whistle and much less of a deal than
> "mashing," even though this, too, was referenced - but never
> portrayed; I can recall Daisy Duck gazing into a shopwindow, then
> suddenly turning, shouting "MASHER!!", and smacking a passing man over
> his head with her umbrella, but, to this day, I'm not really sure what
> it was that a "masher" did to women (copped a feel?)  - even in
> Disney's comics.
> IIRC, even today, there's a storefront of some kind with the name,
> Hubba-Hubba, on Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge.
> --
> -Wilson
> –––
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"––a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> –Mark Twain
> Once we recognize that we do not err out of laziness, stupidity,
> or evil intent, we can uncumber ourselves of the impossible burden of
> trying to be permanently right. We can take seriously the proposition
> that we could be in error, without necessarily deeming ourselves
> idiotic or unworthy.
> –Kathryn Schulz
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list