Posted by R. Berg on October 04, 2001

In Reply to: The Big Magilla posted by Bruce Kahl on October 04, 2001

: : I recently got into a discussion with some friends
: : over the history behind the phrase 'The Big Magilla'

: : Can anybody help me out on this?

: One entry found for megillah.

: Main Entry: me·gil·lah
: Pronunciation: m&-'gi-l&
: Function: noun
: Etymology: Yiddish megile, from Hebrew megillah scroll, volume (used especially of the Book of Esther, read aloud at the Purim celebration)
: Date: circa 1952
: slang : a long involved story or account

"The whole megillah" is more often heard than "the big megillah." Excerpts from the entry for "megillah" in Leo Rosten, "The Joys of Yiddish":

1. "Megillah" usually describes the Book of Esther, which is read in the synagogue during the Purim holiday . . .
2. Anything very long, prolix; a rigmarole. The Book of Esther wanders through a crushing concatenation of detail, and the devout sit through the long, long reading after a day of fasting.
3. In popular parlance: Anything complicated, boring, overly extended, fouled up. "He'll put you to sleep with that megillah." "Don't give me a megillah" means "Spare me the full, dull details."

In show business, "megillah" has become a much-favored word and I have heard it . . . in comedy routines . . . instead of "all that jazz," or "all that malarkey."