[Ads-l] moolah/mulah (1936)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 29 17:39:40 UTC 2019

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


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

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.


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list