phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at


Posted by Smokey Stover on April 11, 2006

In Reply to: Chiribiribi posted by Brian from Shawnee on April 11, 2006

: : : Has anyone heard the saying "La di dah and cherry be de be"? Where, when and why did it originate?

: : La di dah, very well known. Cherry be de be, never heard of it.
: : "la-di-da also la-de-da Pronunciation (lä-dee-da)
: : adjective, informal
: : Affectedly genteel; pretentious.
: : interjection.
: : Used to express disdain for something viewed as pretentious.
: : [Imitative of affected speech.]"
: : The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000.

: : Or, from the Urban Dictionary:
: : That's really not as cool as you think it is.

: : Person 1: Check out my new Urkel sheets!
: : Person 2: Well, la-di-dah!

: : WordWeb Dictionary: Adjective: lah-di-dah
: : 1. Affectedly genteel
: : - grandiose, hifalutin, highfalutin, highfaluting, hoity-toity, la-di-da
: : See also: pretentious

: : This is harder than I expected. The use of the phrase "la di dah" is as much about the speaker as it is about the spoken of. The phrase indicates, in conversation, and is intended to indicate, that the speaker, often in a snippy way, is characterizing something else as pretentious or hoity-toity. When adopted by reporters or commentators it may just refer to something that is fashion-conscious. Its conversational use strikes me as the snotty sneering at the snooty. One of the definitions above says the phrase is imitative of affected speech. No doubt that's correct, but somehow I always thought the affected speech was in French.
: : CHerry be de be; that's a mystery to me. SS

: There's a Spanish-language folk song (not sure of the country of origin) called Chiribiribi (not sure of the exact spelling, either). The refrain goes something like "Chiribiribi, po po pom pom" and it's popular among secondary school Spanish teachers here in the U.S. I have a feeling it may have been a minor hit during the "folk scare" of the early 1960's, because Deputy Barney Fife made a reference to the song in an episode of The Andy Griffith Show. (He sang that song during a talent-show audition because he couldn't remember the words to "A Cappella").

Perhaps this song is a version of Ciribiribin, which is pronounced roughly as Cheery beery bean, which is not too far from Cherry be de be. Ciribiribin, a tuneful song in waltz rhythm, was composed in 1898 by Alberto Pestalozza and has been popular in Europe and North America ever since, with the Italian words often replaced by translations. In some anthologies Ciribiribin was replaced by the word Ciribiribee. It was recorded in 1909 by Enrico Caruso, and by many others from 1911 on, performed by Jeannette MacDonald, Harry James, Frank Sinatra, and a very long list of other well-known singers. It has been featured in at least four movies between 1933 and 1978, including Springtime in the Rockies . What does Ciribiribin mean? Nothing at all, as far as I've been able to learn. Permit me to quote the refrain, in the translation sung by Frank Sinatra and others.

Ciribiribin, he waits for her each night beneath her balcony
Ciribiribin, he begs to hold her tight, but no, she won't agree
Ciribiribin, she throws a rose and blows a kiss from up above
Ciribiribin, ciribiribin, ciribiribin, they're so in love.

On the Web you can hear most of one verse (all but the last note or two) sung by Erna Sack, with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.