Mark A. Mandel Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
Tue Mar 13 17:06:32 UTC 2001

Larry writes:

No idea on the origin, although if I had to bet it would be on
Sicilian Italian rather than French.  Just a guess, though.  Here's
two other spellings to check (there were no google hits on the
version given), both evidently representing the same lexical item,
with the approximate meaning of 'megillah'.

... Which, of course, is Hebrew for 'scroll', specifically a book of the
(Hebrew) Bible written by a scribe on a scroll, and especially at this time
of year the Megillat Esther, the Book of Esther, which records the legend
celebrated in the festival of Purim, whose events include the complete
reading of that Book, which can be rather tedious (especially in Hebrew for
those with limited or zero comprehension thereof, and especially in
contrast to the noisy and joyous play of the events, or Purim Shpiel in
Yiddish), which has given rise to the expression "the whole megillah" 'the
entire process or affair', which in turn and at last leads to the sense in
which Larry is using the word, 'big noisy doing', whether of conflict (his
first two cites) or of celebration (his third).
     <panting for breath>

   Mark A. Mandel : Dragon Systems, a Lernout & Hauspie company
          Mark_Mandel at dragonsys.com : Senior Linguist
 320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02460, USA : http://www.dragonsys.com

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