TV Words

Jonathon Green slang at ABECEDARY.NET
Wed Dec 6 17:40:09 UTC 2006

Mullins, Bill AMRDEC wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Mullins, Bill AMRDEC" <Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL>
> Subject:      Re: TV Words
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> This is the first I've heard of the Howdy Doody origin -- I've always
> thought it was surfer slang.
I'm well aware of my lack of hands-on experience of US '50s culture and
can but quote:

1999 Christian Science Monitor 30 Dec. n.p. The exclamation ‘Cowabunga!’
appears to have originated with Chief Thunderthud on ‘The Howdy Doody
Show’ in 1954. It passed into surfing slang as a exclamation of triumph
in the 1960s, then became a rallying cry for the Teenage Mutant Ninja
Turtles in the 1980s and more recently one of Bart’s catchwords on ‘The

which is the basis of my etymology. I am relieved to see that JEL offers
a cite (a personal note from John Algeo) which appears to bear this out
and names the Howdy Doody writer who claims to have originated it.


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