phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Home | Search the website Search | Discussion Forum Home|

"alley oop"

Posted by Brian from Shawnee on April 17, 2006

In Reply to: "Alley oop" posted by Smokey Stover on April 17, 2006

: : : : where and how did "alley oop" originate

: : : There was a comic strip by that name.

: : : "Cartoonist Vincent T. Hamlin developed an interest in fossils while working on advertising layouts for a Texas oil company in the early 1930s. When he decided to try his hand at a comic strip, the prehistoric past suggested itself as a topic. He named his Stone Age hero after words used by French gymnasts and trapeze artists ("Allez Oup"), surrounded him with supporting characters (girlfriend Ooola, pal Foozy, antagonist King Guz, pet dinosaur Dinny, etc.), and started sending the whole menage out to syndicates..."

: : treats alley-oop as a word, defined:

: : al·ley-oop
: : n. Basketball
: : A play in which a pass is lobbed above the basket and a player jumps up and attempts to catch the ball and score before returning to the floor.
: : The pass made in such a play.

: : interj.
: : Used to signal the start of a strenuous activity, such as lifting.

: : [French allez-oop, cry of circus acrobat about to leap, from allez, pl. imperative of aller, to go, from Old French aler, to walk. See alley1.]

: : [Download Now or Buy the Book]
: : Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
: : Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
: : Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

: : Main Entry: alley-oop
: : Part of Speech: interjection
: : Definition: an exclamation of encouragement or to draw attention to a physical feat
: : Etymology: Fr. aller + Br. oop

: : Source: Webster's New MillenniumT Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.6)
: : Copyright © 2003-2005 Lexico Publishing Group, LLC

: : Main Entry: alley-oop
: : Part of Speech: noun
: : Definition: in basketball, a high pass caught by a jumping teammate who catches the pass above the hoop and tries to dunk the ball
: : Etymology: Fr. aller + Br. oop

: : Source: Webster's New MillenniumT Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.6)
: : Copyright © 2003-2005 Lexico Publishing Group, LLC

: The cartoon site is excellent; it's informative, accurate and interesting. Alley Oop was one of my favorite comic strips. As noted above, the character's name was a pun on a French phrase possibly better known in Hamlin's time than in our own. The same is true of the name of his girl friend, Ooola, from ooh-la-la, a phrase that has not exactly fallen into desuetude, but is not often heard (I think) today. For a more authoritative explanation of ooh-la-la than I could muster I consulted the OED: "ooh-la-la, ooh-la-la', oo-la-la, oooh-la-la, . Freq. in French contexts or in contexts stereotypically associated with France.
: A. int. Expressing surprise, appreciation, excitement, etc.
: In quot. a1918 used as part of attrib. phrase.
: 1918 Stars & Stripes 22 Feb. 4/1 'Oo-la-la! This is France!' That is the impression which altogether too many men have had in mind upon their first arrival here. 1958 H. MILLER Colossus of Maroussi II. 163 The last visitor was a drunken American apparently who had thought it a good joke to sign the Duke of Windsor's name in the register, adding 'Oolala, what a night!' ...

: B. adj. Sexually attractive or provocative.
: 1940 E. A. ROBERTSON Summer's Lease xx. 269 He went to France..believing that French girls were all 'Oo la la and snatch my garter'. 1959 Spectator 24 July 102/3 The ooh-la-la French maid. 1995 R. BARRIOS Song in Dark v. 135 Bordoni was a little too long in the tooth to play the ooh-la-la coquette on film."
: For obvious reasons the OE D doesn't cite Fren ch uses , but does give an etymology "< French oh là là (1863 or earlier...]...." which traces some of the expression back to L@tin. ♪ SS ♪

Back to basketball for a moment, if I may: I wonder if the first use o f the term "alley oop" for an impressively athletic play was influenced by the term "lay up" for an easy score where a player jumps up and bounces the ball off the backboard into the basket. See? "A lay up" sounds a lot like "alley oop".