[Ads-l] antedating "ish kabibble"

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 18 19:53:43 EST 2021

A popular song called Ish Ga Bibble was published in 1913.  I've wrote 
about it in my RealAlfredE blog.


The US was in the middle of the "I should worry!" craze.  "I should 
worry" was said questioningly, to mean the exact opposite - "what? I 
should worry?"  Imagine Billy Crystal in the Princess Bride.

"Ish Ga Bibble" was intended to be a fun way to express the same thing.

Sample Lyrics:
I never care or worry
Isch Gabibble - Isch Gabibble
I never tear or hurry
Isch Gabibble - Isch Gabibble
. . . .
I should worry if they steal my wife
And let a pimple grow on my young life
Isch Gabibble - I should worry?
No! Not me!

An explanation in 1914 claimed that a songwriter overheard the Yiddish 
phrase "nisch gefiddelt" in a vaudeville show, which supposedly had a 
similar meaning as "I should worry," misunderstood the pronunciation and 
wrote the song.

Whether any of that is true or not is another story, but the song 
appears to be when the word became widely used.

The "I should worry" craze influenced the later adoption of "What - me 
worry" as the slogan for Alfred E. Neuman on Mad Magazine.  A 1914 
poster by Harry Stuff used an Alfred-like image with the question, "Me - 
worry?"  Years later when the Mad Magazine people found a postcard with 
that image, they borrowed it and the expression for their magazine.

------ Original Message ------
From: "Jonathan Lighter" <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
To: ADS-L at listserv.uga.edu
Sent: 2/18/2021 12:10:46 PM
Subject: antedating "ish kabibble"

>---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
>Subject:      antedating "ish kabibble"
>Still not in OED.
>1913 _Newark [N.J.] Evening Star_ (Aug. 4) 2: Nibble, Nibble, Ishkabibble
>1913 _Sheboygan Press_ (Sept. 23) 3: The Ish-ga-bibble bowling team
>defeated Freddy Heerman's Colts 2 out of 3 games on the North Side Alleys
>last night.
>1913 _Age-Herald_ (Birmingham, Ala.)  (Sept. 28) 8:  ISH-KABIBBLE?
>Forst's Everybody's Shoe Store  Why Should You ISH-KABIBBLE?  If you will
>come to Everybody's Shoe Store we will show you why you shouldn't
>ISH-KABIBBLE!   [Photo.] This is the man who will Ish-Kabibble For You
>Everybody's shoe store has the has the merchandise to prevent anyone from
>Ish-Kabibbling.  For an explanation come to Forst's ... ISH-KABIBBLE?
>  Something was happening in 1913....
>"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list