James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Thu Apr 8 20:48:18 UTC 2004

In a message dated  Wed, 7 Apr 2004 00:29:33 -0400, the ASCII-challenging
Sean Fitzpatrick <grendel.jjf at VERIZON.NET> wrote:

>  My high school was in a neighborhood of Washington, D.C. called since
>  ancient times "Swampoodle".  My Philadelphia wife just mentioned to me
>  that there is a section of Philadelphia with the same name.  Both were
>  Irish neighborhoods--"shanty-towns", say some accounts--subject to
>  flooding.   <snip>
>  Web searches found Swampoodle Creek in Texarkana, TX; Brownsville (aka
>  Swampoodle), Loudon Co., VA  ("low swampy area"); and Swampoodle Park,
>  in Harmony, PA.  Geologists have designated a kind of soil as Swampoodle.
>  Does anyone know the origin of the term?

When I first saw your message I read it as "swampdoodle" which immediately
brought to mind the line from "Big Rock Candy Mountain"

      And the rock-and-rye springs where the whang-doodle sings

I don't have a date for "Big Rock Candy Mountain".  According to one Web
site, it was recorded by Harry "Haywire Mac" McClintock in 1928 but probably was
originally a hobo folk song.  Also most versions (by a vote of 937 to 2 on
Google) give a cleaner version of the above line:

     And the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings

which I suspect is a later bowdlerization since the whang-doodle versions
scans as four anapests and the bluebird bersion does not.

Google gave me 441 sites for "swampoodle" and only 9 for "swampdoodle".

2&c=26&nfcp=1 gives a date of April 2, 1886 for the following:

<quote>Capitol Park is opened in Washington with an exhibition game. The team
will be called the Senators or Statesmen. The new park will carry the
nickname "Swampdoodle Grounds." </quote>

This is rather slender evidence for a hypothesis that the suffix -doodle
existed in American English in the late 19th century, although it was not notably

The OED traces "doodle" as a noun meaning "a silly or foolish fellow" to 1628
but does not show a suffix -doodle.

As for "swampoodle", what comes to mind is "Liverpudlian" which the OED says
is "with jocular substitution of puddle for pool" and dates to 1833.

Asides to Jesse Sheidlower: the OED2 has "doo-dah" as "From the refrain
doo-da(h) of the plantation song 'Camptown Races'".  I thought "Camptown Races" was
written by Stephen Collins Foster.

What is rock-and-rye?  Rye whiskey on the rocks?  The earliest "rock and rye"
that I could find in the OED is under rock n. I 2 h, "rock(s)" meaning ice
for a drink, citation dated 1948.  The earliest "rocks" for "ice" is 1946, from
American Speech XXI 35.  Do we have an antedating?

        - Jim Landau

More information about the Ads-l mailing list