phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Screaming meemies (orig. posted May 2002)

Posted by (Various posters--RB) on August 10, 2002

Posted by Masakim on May 30, 2002

In Reply to: Re: Screaming . . . posted by R. Berg on May 30, 2002

: : I love this one but I'm not sure how to spell the "me me" part.

: : Rick

: I found the spelling and the history, which has more to it than I'd expected.

: From Wentworth & Flexner, "Dictionary of American Slang," 1960:

: "screaming meemie" 1. A specific type of small Army rocket launched from a multiple rocket projector on the back of a jeep or truck. Common Army use since late W.W.II. From the frightening noise and effect such rockets made, similar to the screaming meemies. 2. So intense or extreme as to cause one to scream or feel effects similar to the screaming meemies. 1953: "Rather than endure amother minute of screaming-meemie loneliness." William DuBois, N.Y. Times, May 1, 19.
: "screaming meemies, the" The delirium tremens; the jitters, the heebie-jeebies. 1927: "To have the screaming meemies." New Republic, 50, 72. . . .

From Glen Savits:
My secretary uses the phrase _screaming Mimi_ constantly. We know what it means but nobody knows where it comes from. No web site has been able to explain the expression. Who is Mimi?
This is apparently partly onomatopoeic, and partly rhyming in origin. The term, often spelled _screaming meemies_, is first recorded in 1927 with the meaning "drunkenness", but a couple of sources suggest that it dates from World War I, when it referred to a certain kind of German artillery shells that made a screaming sound which approximated "meem" or "meemie". Later, soldiers who experienced shell shock from hearing too many of those artillery shells were said to have the _screaming meemies_, and then one can see how that evolved to refer to drunkenness. Later, it became synonymous with _heebie jeebies_, or "delirium tremens", and now we hear it used with several different meanings, including "the willies" or "the creeps", as in "Fingernails on a chalkboard give me the screaming meemies".
During World War II the term was resurrected in military parlance to refer to a specific German rocket, the _nebel-werfer_, and then to many other enemy rockets. Another term used for those rockets is said to have been _Moaning Minnies_.
From Take Our Word For It: Words to the Wise (July 17, 2000)