phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Home | Search the website Search | Discussion Forum Home|

The Big Easy

Posted by ESC on December 20, 2005

In Reply to: The Big Easy posted by Smokey Stover on December 20, 2005

: : What is the origin of the phrase, "The Big Easy" to describe New Orleans?

: One explanation is that it's easy for those not entirely on the up-and-up to find some action. Or that the cops are easy on vice.

: Another explanation, that I like better, is that jazz musicians, who are often of a dark color, found it easier to get work in New Orleans, which loves music and doesn't hate blacks. SS

BIG EASY -- "Possibly this was originally a jazz term referring to the pleasant, easygoing life in New Orleans." "The Facts on File Encylopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson. 1997.

"The Big Easy -- according to an article by Daniel Carey in the August 27, 1987 Times-Picayune, the Big Easy was the name of one or more dance halls or other music establishments in New Orleans during the early 1900s. He implies that when traveling musicians talked about playing 'The Big Easy,' listeners associated the name of the club with the city and that, over time, the phrase was added to the list of popular nicknames for the city. In Carey's words:

Eventually, the nickname transferred to the city as a whole, referring to the gentle pace of life and somewhat lax morals for which New Orleans is known.

Later, in the early 1970s, local "gossip columnist" Betty Gillaud brought the term into new popularity through a column in which she used the Big Easy as a metaphor for the laid back quality of life in New Orleans as contrasted with the hectic nature of existence in New York--the Big Apple." From the Louisiana Division, New Orleans Public Library, "Origins of New Orleans Words and Traditions." Accessed December 19, 2005.