It's amaze

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 11 17:35:12 UTC 2013

On Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 8:35 AM, Christopher Philippo wrote:
> On Dec 11, 2013, at 7:46 AM, Amy West <medievalist at W-STS.COM> wrote:
> > A fellow English adjunct, who’s younger than me, just ranted on FB about
> > hearing Malcolm MacDowell say “amaze balls" (as she wrote it) on a TV
> > commercial (Sprint?). My colleague was apoplectic. Does this count as
> > catching on?
> >
> > I don't understand the -balls suffix.
> There’s several ads like that; “Totes McGotes” is also used in them and
> evidently means “totally.”  The intention in using McDowell and James Earl
> Jones is humor, though I’m not sure why the company would think it would
> encourage anyone to spend money on their product.  Perhaps they’re aiming
> for the demographic that uses those words, which must be tweeners or younger.

Here's the commerical in question, one in a series in which McDowell
and Jones dramatically reenact online interactions among young people
for comic effect:

Reminds me of Steve Allen's straight-faced dramatic reading of
"Be-Bop-A-Lula" back in the day:

As for how you get from "amaze" to "amazeballs," this Slate piece has
some insights:


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list