Real Talk: Dilly-Dally

Sam+Stephens+&+Anne+Lennox-Martin+-+Don't+Dilly+Dally+-+7-+RECORD-570246Real Talk, in which I explain why we say weird things like “plugged nickel” or “cat’s pajamas.” Also, a place where I can send my boyfriend when he asks the meaning of weird phrases like “plugged nickel” or “cat’s pajamas.”

“Don’t dilly-dally! Just sit down and write a Real Talk again!”

Dilly-dally turns out to have not terribly interesting origins, but it is interesting in that it’s an example of “fanciful reduplication.” “Dally,” which comes from the French “dalier,” means to waste time. The “dilly” was just tacked on sometime in the 1700s because it sounded funny. (Only later, in the 1930s, did “dilly” come to mean great.) Fanciful reduplication! Like the 18th-century’s version of “The Name Game.”

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