[Ads-l] moolah/mulah (1936)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 29 13:39:40 EDT 2019


OED3's earliest for "moolah" is from 1937, a cite that Stephen Goranson
shared here in 2010:

http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2010-July/101435.html

Barry Popik has found a nice antedating that also provides an intriguing
explanation for the word's origin.

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Daily News (New York, NY), Feb. 21, 1936, p. 46, col. 1
"Mainly About Manhattan," by John Chapman
Lou Frankel, who digs into slang and the reasons behind it, offers a few
show business terms: [...]
Mulah--money. Lou always thought it was Arabic or Syrian, but research
turns up this: A colored vaudeville team used the word years ago. One of
the partners played the role of a Chinese, and the other one, playing a
colored man, owed him money. The "Chinese" asked for his mulah which was
his idea of pidgin English.
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/35394640/mulahmoolahmoney_1936/
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--bgz

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


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