Posted by DGW on August 16, 2002
In Reply to: Palooza posted by masakim on August 15, 2002
: : : : Where does this come from?
: : : And while you're about it, what does it mean?
: : Short answer: It is taken from "lollapalooza" (also various other phonetic spellings) and means "humdinger".
: : Long answer:
: : Rube Goldberg had a cartoon character named "Lala Palooza" in the 1930s, but the word is older than that. The etymology is uncertain.
: : The "American Heritage Dictionary" says a lollapalooza is: "something outstanding of its kind", but after the Lollapalooza Tour, it's usually used as a suffix to indicate an extravaganza of some sort. (Hockey-palooza, Bingo-paloooza, etc.)
: H.L. Mencken, in _The American Language_ , wrote:
: _Lallapalooza_ is also probably an Irish loa[word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy], though it is not Gaelic. It apparently comes from _allay-foozee_, a Mayo provincialism, signifying a sturdy fellow. _Allay-foozee_, in its turn, comes from the French _allez-fusil_, meaning "Forward the muskets!"-a memory, according to P. W. Joyce,  of the French landing at Killala in 1798.
: [Note 43. English As We Speak It in Ireland, 2nd ed.; London and Dublin, 1910, pp. 179-180.]
: "He is saying his team next season will contain a whole lot of lalapaloosas --" "What is a lalapaloosa?" "A lalapaloosa, my son, is a crackerjack." (_Sporting News_, November 12, 1898)
: FYI, there is another word beginning with "paloo-": palooka, meaning "an inferior or average prize fighter; a wrestler; any stupid or mediocre person, esp. if big or strong; an oafish hoodlum; a weak or worthless hand in poker or bridge" (DAS, 1967).
I doubt Mencken's story. My casual guess is that "lollapalooza" is a frivolous expansion of "lulu" in the same sense (which dates from at least as early as 1857) (there were other equivalents, "lolly", "la-la", etc.). But where is the evidence, for Mencken's theory or mine?