hi-de hi-de

Tom Kysilko pds at VISI.COM
Thu Jul 12 05:24:59 UTC 2001

Douglas G. Wilson wrote (quoting James A. Landau):
>>"Hi-dee" and its numerous variants such as "hi-dee-ho" is a greeting.

DARE has "hidy" as a variation on "howdy".  But "hi-de" seems to be the
preferred spelling in the songs of Calloway and others, according the the
piano rolls I've seen as well as on-line song compilations.  For example,...

>Right, and also a nonsense interjection.
>I'm reminded of "Minnie the Moocher" (Cab Calloway, ca. 1930, I think): the
>chorus has "hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-hi".

Which is why I first put the question to Gerald Cohen, since he has written
on Calloway and "hi-de-ho".

(Landau again)
>>Hence the second stanza you quoted appears to mean something like
>>And when I begged you for a little sympathy,
>>Didn't you even try to [call me up and say hi to me]?
>Only if the "didn't" is actually meant to be "did", I think.

I think it's pretty clear from context that
   "Didn't you even try...?" = "You even tried...!"

>I picture the "hi-de hi-de" as being either
>(1) something frivolous like "la-di-da" or "har-de-har" ... thus, "Didn't
>you even try to [make fun of me]/[make light of my troubles]?"
>or (2) a nonsense replacement for something like "casually seduce"/"f*ck" ...
>thus, "Didn't you even try to [take advantage of me]?"
>Just speculation.

To which speculation might be added:

or (3) BS or obfuscation ... thus "Didn't you even try to [lay a snow job
on me]?"

or (4) an all-purpose euphemism ... thus "Didn't you even try to [well, you

or (5) dismiss, get rid of ... thus "Didn't you even try to [give me the
bum's rush]?"

or (6) literally to say "hi-de hi-de" ... thus "Didn't you even try to
[ignore me by spouting nonsense syllables]?"

But apart from speculation, is there any light to be shed on this usage?

  Tom Kysilko        Practical Data Services
  pds at visi.com       Saint Paul MN USA

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