hi-de hi-de

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Thu Jul 12 06:54:29 UTC 2001

>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.

I think the spelling is insignificant. One can find hundreds of Web
citations with "hidey" in the same [non]sense, for example. Partridge shows
"hi-de-hi" and also "hidy", "hidey", and "highdy" (as equivalents).

> >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]?"

These all boil down to two possibilities: (A) the singer is replacing
something with these nonsense syllables (2, 4) or (B) the singer is
attributing such nonsense to the putative target of the song (1, 3, 5, 6).
At any rate, the hi-de-hi-de seems to be nothing but an interjection or
nonsense string. The distinction between (A) and (B) might be made by
listening to the song, perhaps.

Another possibility: that "hi-de hi-de" is really "hidey-hidey" = "hide"
... thus "Didn't you even try to [disrespectfully] hide me [from your
friends etc.]?" Again, listening to the song might be enlightening to some

And another: that "hi-de hi-de" is a variant of "highty-tighty" =
"hoity-toity", used as a verb = "act haughty toward" ... thus "Didn't you
even try to [look down your nose at] me?"

These speculations may be of limited value, but they're very inexpensive!

-- Doug Wilson

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