Tough Noogies

Posted by ESC on April 22, 2000

In Reply to: Tough Noogies posted by Milan on April 21, 2000

: Does anyone know the origin of the phrase "tough noogies?"

"tough, 1883. Tough had meant hard luck since the early 1870s, with tough luck first being recorded in 1890, tough titty in 1929, and tough **** in 1946, though this last was probably in use much earlier but wasn't recorded until changes in attitudes and morality after World War II began to allow such terms in print." From Listening to America: An Illustrated History of Words and Phrases from Our Lively and Splendid Past by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982).

I've also heard "tough toenails."

A Bill Murray character Todd (I think) on Saturday Night Live, a U.S. TV show, used the term "tough noogies," though it probably had an earlier origin. "The Dictionary of Contemporary Slang" by Tony Thorne (Pantheon Books, New York, 1990) says a noogie or nuggy is a kiss or hug or other sexual activity. But didn't Todd use the term "noogy" when he gave Lisa a "dutch rub" or "burn," knuckles rubbing on her head?