Thursday, April 10, 2008

What is a doodle-daddle?


loodle-laddle (n) also doodle-laddle, oodle-addle. A contraption; esp a deliberately humorous or evasive name given to an object in order to puzzle a child. C 71-94 When a man was making something and some curious boy asked him what he was making the man always told him that he was making an oodle-addle. P 245-77 Do you know what we call that drain pipe? We call it the oodle-addle. P 30-79 My mother used to tease me by saying that a doodle laddle was a machine for catching wild ducks. - quoted from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English Online

When I was a kid the way I first heard the idea of “thing-a-ma-jig” was “doodle-daddle for stirrin’ doughb’ys.” It was always like that, the whole phrase, and it came out together like one long word. If my father had something in his hand like a big bolt that I didn’t recognize, and I asked him what it was, and he didn’t care to go into it, he’d say, “This is a doodle-daddle-fer-stirrin’-doughb’ys.” I understood that what he meant is the same as “thingie,” but I must have been 20 before I separated the words out in my head and understood the word “stirrin’” as “stirring” and started to get an image of a utensil stirring dumplings -- a doodle-daddle for stirring dougboys. - Lara Maynard, Torbay, 2008.
So now that you know what it is, why doodle-daddle? I've chosen the word as the blog title in part because of its wonderful, poetic alliterative quality, in part because it is one of those old Newfoundland expresions that in themselves are worthy of conservation as pieces of our intangible cultural heritage, in part because it is the type of word that generates discussion, stories and smiles, and in part because it is a word about words, which links the things that we create with the culture that creates, shares and transmits the ideas about those things.

Do you have a memory of someone using the phrase "doodle-daddle"? If you do, post a message below, and share your story!


47edge said...

My grandmother was from St. John's. I remember her reciting this long list of words which included "cocks (or cox) and dandelions and doodle-laddle loaf or oaf or oats". Wish I could remember more, but she's been gone for over 40 years.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in northern New Brunswick,Canada,,a Doodle Addle was to us kids a ski with a seat on it used to slide down a snow covered hill,,the ski was made by breaking up a small wooden barrel and using one of the barrel staves as a ski you nailed a wooden piece about 20 inches to the stave and then another piece of wood across to form a seat,you sat on the seat,put both feet on the barrel stave and you would steer by dragging one of your feet in the snow

Mark said...

My grandfather always used to say, "doodle daddle for a duck's braddle".

vanilla said...

Dad used to say of a machine, "She's running like an oodle-addle on a windmill;" or maybe even "My nose was running like an oodle-addle."