[Ads-l] Query: "It's (all) Greek to me"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 15 15:34:55 UTC 2016

On Tue, Mar 15, 2016 at 11:21 AM, James A. Landau wrote:
> On Tue, 15 Mar 2016 02:06:03 Zone+0000 "Cohen, Gerald Leonard" wrote:
> >Today I received a request from Wolfgang Mieder for any information
> >on the expression "to be (all) Greek to someone,"
> The following is probably more amusing than useful:
> In a book I once read (and connot now identify) the suthor stated that "gringo"
> comes from the Spanish "griego" meaning "Greek" because to Latin Americans
> the speech of norteamericanos was "all griego to them".
> The author was trying to debunk the theory that "gringo" came from the song
> "Green Grow the Lilacs", supposedly sung by US troops in the Mexican War.
> Unfortunately he said "trooops do not sing songs about flora".  Well, "Green
> Grow the Lilacs" is a song about love going astray: "Love, like the green
> lilacs, can change color too..."

I've covered both "it's Greek to me" and "gringo" in my Word Routes
column and other media.

linking to:

linking to:


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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