"Ish Ga Fret" (I should worry) in 1914 baseball article

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Sep 8 04:45:51 UTC 2003

>Here's another oddity I've come across in the 1914 baseball columns
>of the _San Francisco Bulletin_: "Ish Ga Fret" (= I should worry;
>actually expresses just the opposite). "Ish" looks like (dialectal)
>German; "Fret" is English "fret" (worry); but what is "Ga"? Might
>there be some connection with "ish kabibble," for which HDAS gives
>1913 as the first attestation and which has the same meaning (I
>should worry = I don't care)?
>    The item appears below my signoff.
>Gerald Cohen
>[San Francisco Bulletin]:
>March 18, 1914, p.11/5-6; 'Does Mr. Overall Really Know His Own
>Mind?'; col. 5: "But whether Overall comes or goes, [Seals manager]
>Howard has no occasion to worry.  The signing of new talent which
>graces the pitching staff of the club this season has made Howard a
>member of the Ish Ga Fret society and he can easily afford to assume
>the dictatorial position in the matter with Maier
>[I.e., if Overall goes to the Venice club, Maier will have to pay
>dearly for him].
>But rest assured, if Overall goes to Venice, the San Francisco club
>will not suffer."

There are various notions as to the origin of "ish-kabibble" (e.g., in
Green's dictionary ... and Chapman's [same notion] ... and Partridge's
[different one]). I don't know whether any of these is substantiated or
even plausible. If the phrase has been heavily mangled, then the
"ish"/"ich" may be spurious along with the rest. If the phrase has not been
so severely altered, then someone familiar with German dialects could
perhaps make a good guess. I am ignorant of such things, so I can make only
a silly wild speculation, viz. that "ga" could be "gah" = "gehe" = English
"go". The "bibble" might could = German "bibbern" (= "jitter" in English),
and perhaps the whole construction is 'future' or something similar, with
"gehen" as an 'auxiliary'. Another possibility (?): "ga" = German "gar",
just an intensifier. Either way the expression would be sarcastic,
analogous but not exactly equivalent to the above expression with "should".
And of course the "ga" could also be the "ge-" customary in German past
participles etc. ... but then what's the "bibble"?

-- Doug Wilson

More information about the Ads-l mailing list