phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Fancy-schmancy

Posted by Bob on August 05, 2000

In Reply to: US Slang!! posted by ESC on August 05, 2000

: : Cudja tell me the "actual" meanings, origins and the usage of the following rather cute slang terms:
: : 1)fancy-schmancy 2)cutie-patootie 3) va-va-voom
: : 4)wink, wink, nudge, nudge 5)gosh-darn

: : That's all I can think of rite now...I got a big list of 'em terms actually.

: : **Thanks y'all**

: All I have are guesses on some of these. Everyone feel free to chime in here.

: 1. Fancy-smancy. I've heard this expression in movies, usually spoken by an old Jewish man. It refers to someone who is excessive proud and/or self-involved.

: 2. Cutie-patootie. I just started hearing this one a year or so ago. Rosie O'Donnell, a TV talk show hostess, (my teen-ager tells me) uses this to describe cute children. The dictionary says "cute" means "delightful, attractive." But it is usually used to describe children or petite women. A side note, I believe the original meaning of "patootie" was butt or behind.

: 3. Va-va-voom. This is a sound like an engine revving up an engine. It's used sometimes today. Most of the time on old cartoons. I believe it is an outdated saying from the 1920s. That is just a guess. It's usually said by a man who has spotted an attractive woman.

: 4. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. (See separate post.)This is a phrase taken from a comedy sketch on a British TV show, Monty Python's Flying Circus. The show was imported to the U.S. (in the 1970s?? The answer to that is probably on one of the many Monty Python sites) and is still very popular.

: 5. Gosh darn. It is considered to be rude and an offense to God to "take His name in vain." So people who can't stop cursing will often try and catch themselves at the last minute and say things like "gosh darn" or "gosh dog," instead of the offensive "God damn." And what's this called gang? It is a MINCED OATH.

Fancy schmancy is one of many examples of Yiddish humor, which offers wonderful, colorful ways of deflating pretension. This particular one is a way of describing someone or something that is pretentiously elaborate or overdressed. Putting on airs. There's a very good explanation in Leo Rosten's "The Joys of Yiddish," one of my favorite books, and an indispensible dictionary of common Yiddish expressions. (Buy it!) To quote the master:

Sh, Shm. Not words, but prefatory sounds, of mockery or dismissal, that "pooh-pooh" the word they prefix. 1. To negate or deride the meaning of a word, the word is repeated -- but with shm- prefixed to the repetition. "The doctor says she has a serious virus? Virus-shmirus, as long as she's OK." (This is, of course, a variation of the classic "cancer-shmancer, as long as you're healthy." "The mayor? Mayhor-shmayor, it's his wife who runs the show."

Each example in the book is illuminated with a little Yiddish humor. Buy it. (If it's still in print, that is.)