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diddly squat

Posted: Sun Aug 08, 2004 1:41 pm
by Archived Topic
Where did didly or diddly squat come from?
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diddly squat

Posted: Sun Aug 08, 2004 1:56 pm
by Archived Reply
Ask Bo.
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diddly squat

Posted: Sun Aug 08, 2004 2:10 pm
by Archived Reply
did·dly-squat also did·dly·squat (dĭd'lç-skwŏt') .
n. Slang.
A small or worthless amount.

[Alteration of diddlyshit (influenced by DOODLY-SQUAT) : diddly (probably from DIDDLE2) + shit, added as an intensive (from SHIT).]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Leif, WA, USA
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diddly squat

Posted: Sun Aug 08, 2004 2:25 pm
by Archived Reply
I don't know shit !!!
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Re: diddly squat

Posted: Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:46 pm
by tony h
Is this the best that can be done on the origin of diddly squat?

Re: diddly squat

Posted: Sat Jun 16, 2012 6:21 am
by Ken Greenwald

Tony, After consulting several sources (referenced below), here is what I came up with:

DIDDLY SQUAT/BOP/POOP/POO/SHIT noun colloquial (originally and chiefly U.S.) [1963]: Nothing or very little; a small or worthless amount; a thing of little value or significance; especially in not to give a diddly squat and you don’t know diddly squat. An alteration (probably euphemistic) of doodly/doodley squat.

DOODLY/DOODLEY SQUAT noun U.S. Southern [1934]: The least bit; emphatically nothing.

DOODLY/DOODLEY [1930s]: An insignificant amount, nothing whatsoever, the inference is that the subject is worthless. Probably coming from the noun doodle or the adjective diddly.

DIDDLY adjective [1893]: Insignificant; trifling.

DOODLE noun: Excrement.

SQUAT noun [1963]: Commonly taken from second element of the phrase diddly squat [1963] and probably deriving from the idea of the slang to squat, to void excrement – same idea as ‘shit’ in ‘diddly shit’(1963) – but also appearing in ‘doodly squat’ in 1934.


1) The synonym DIDDLY SHIT [1963] first appeared in print the same year as diddly squat with the ‘shit’ being in agreement with the ‘squat.’

2) The shortened forms as in He doesn’t know diddly and He doesn’t know squat are also used.

(Oxford English Dictionary, Historical Dictionary of American Slang. Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, and Facts on File Dictionary of American Regionalisms)

The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary, Historical Dictionary of American Slang, and archived sources:
<1934 “She ain't never had nothin'—not eben doodly-squat, and when she gits uh chance tuh git holt uh sumpin de ole buzzard is gone on uh rampage.”—Jonahs Gourd Vine by Z. N. Hurston, xviii. page 217>

<1963 “No skin off my ass, as the man says . . . who gives a diddly squat.”— Path For Our Valour by T. Doulis, page 274>

<1972 “So many of the candidates . . . just don't know didilly squat.”—National Lampoon, August, page 60>

<1983 “Nobody except his family and friends . . . seems to give a diddly squat about . . . [him] as a human being.”—Washington Post, 24 October, page c62>

<1989 “My funds are depleting fast, I've got diddley-squat to live on.”—Foreplay by C. Roman, xxii. Page 258>

<1994 “There won't be diddley squat going on in the city today.”—Loaded Magazine, September, page 37/1>

<2004 “To hear some council members tell it, the mayor's top assistants . . . are the ventriloquists behind the mayoral voice on education anyway. And they don't know diddly squat about the subject.”—Washington Post, 5 June>

<2012 “At least when they were banging on about emigration and families being ruined, it was welcome because when the IRA was ‘exiling people and smashing families apart they said diddly squat.”—Daily Mail (London), 3 June>

Ken – June 15, 2012

Re: diddly squat

Posted: Sat Jun 16, 2012 11:43 pm
by tony h
Cheers Ken.
PS I was pleased to re read your piece on the earth's magnetic field. It should really be taken out of its original thread and put onto one of its own.