phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at


Posted by ESC on June 16, 2000

In Reply to: SPELLING & ORIGIN posted by RHINELANDER DISTRICY LIBRARY on June 15, 2000


Here's something I previously posted:
While browsing in my favorite bookstore this week, Poor Richard's, I found a nifty little book, "Family Words: The Dictionary for People Who Don't Know a Frone from a Brinkle" by Paul Dickson (Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1988). Family words and phrases are those particular to one family - like when the baby "mispronounces" a word and that becomes part of the family's private language or when family members use a phrase taken from an inside joke.

Some family words, Mr. Dickson points out, are actually are "verbal antiques," word or phrases that were once widely used but disappeared from everyday language. Mr. Dickson includes: YEHOODI -- In more than a few families, this was the name for an imaginary person who left the television on, didn't flush the toilet, or committed any of a number of other household sins. In his "Complete Unabridged Super Trivia Encyclopedia," Fred Worth has an entry for "Yehoodie" which may explain its origin. It reads, "The little man who pushes the next Kleenex tissue up in the Kleenex box. As Created by Bob Hope on his radio program." Worth also carries an entry for Yehudi that reads, "Non-existing character created on radio by Jerry Colonna. He's never heard or seen."

When the question was posted about Yahoodi (a phrase used by the poster's father, I believe), all I could find was "Yehuda," a term that my source (can't remember the reference now) said meant Jewish man. The Facts on File "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson lists this: "Jew - Jew comes from the German 'Jude,' which is a shortened form of Yehuda, the name of the Jewish Commonwealth in the period of the Second Temple."

I don't know if "Yehoodi," meaning Mr. Nobody and Yehuda have any connection.