phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at


Posted by ESC on August 18, 2004

In Reply to: Oompah loompah posted by ESC on August 18, 2004

: : : : From Willy Wonka. Meantime, has it gained any metaphorical usage?

: : : I've heard it used to describe a group of workers.

: : What does it mean?

: They were the workers in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." A review at says:

: Oompa-Loompas - "If you've seen the cinematic version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you'll notice some differences between the book and the movie. Most notably perhaps are the Oompa-Loompas. In the film, they are orange creatures with bright green hair that work and sing in white overalls. In Dahl's book, the Oompa-Loompas are black pygmies from Dark Africa wearing deer skins and leaves. (Considering this book came out in 1964, one can easily see why the change was made for the film.)"

: Here's a picture:

And here's part of a grumbling review of a book about Oompa-Loompas as exploited workers:

"...Better brace yourself. The caption to this idyllic little tableau reads thus:

'Roald Dahl's hero Willie Wonka steps onto the banks of the chocolate river 'where everything was eatable' to recruit 'hundreds and hundreds of tiny oompa-loompas' for his chocolate factory. The oompa-loompas are a rather equivocal image of the effects of the exploitation of colonial environments for consumer products: in Mr. Wonka's chocolate factory they are effectively imprisoned and enslaved, yet they effuse happiness and loyalty.'

...I'll give you a minute to read that again..."