Yankee Doodle Dandy

I came home the other day and while helping out in the kitchen announced to my mom, “I finally found out what Yankee Doodle meant when he stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni!”

She looked at me and replied, “With all that’s been going on, that’s what’s been bothering you?”

Well, not bothering me. But it doesn’t make sense and I just saw a meme about it not that long ago.

Yankee Doodle (sticking a feather in his cap): This is called macaroni.

Yankee’s friend: Yankee, we’re worried about you.

You all know I love words. Tickety-boo, the bissextus. One day I found out that the word “fard” means to apply make-up. I laughed hysterically and announced, “Now every time Rock Star is putting on her make-up I can ask her if she’s farding and she has to say yes!”

So as you can imagine this story piqued my interest. Macaroni does not mean pasta in this instance. It was a term used at the time to refer to a particular men’s fashion from England. It was “fancy”, for lack of better term, although it eventually grew to mean “flashy, over-the-top, and androgynous.” Some say it actually came to mean gay. But originally it was another word for fancy, or fashionable. When he stuck that feather in his cap he was really saying, ‘This feather adds flair and hence, is fashionable. This is macaroni.”

Did you know that the entire song is basically an insult to us Americans? Some of you may already know this but I had had no clue; I found it all fascinating. As I continued to click on links to articles I found that the origins of the song came from those in England looking down on the colonists as “yankee doodles.” They thought we were just backwards hicks. Naturally we were so unsophisticated that when we rode our horse (or pony) into England we would stick a simple feather in our hat and think that was the height of fashion. The whole song is a mockery that backfired terribly.

We were like, “Hey! That’s an awesome song! Love the beat.” We sing it in school. We sing it at parades. We play it at baseball games. Kids learn to play it on the piano, the recorder, the flute. Hell, it’s one of our most popular songs. It’s right up there with baseball, bald eagles, and apple pie. Their insult did not hit their intended mark. We made it our own.

That was not the only vocabulary word I found. I came across a whole list of words used back in colonial days. I’m going to share a few more of them with you.

The next time I’m hungry I’m going to use this one. I’m gut-foundered. It means very hungry. I can see it replacing, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!” or “I’m starving.”

I think we could all agree that Jerry Lee’s behavior has been chuffy in the past. If he didn’t know what begrudge meant he’s really going to be stumped with this one. It means surly or impolite. In other words, a jerk.

Another fantastic one is twistical. It means unfair or immoral. I feel like it should mean dishonest or a slippery slope. Then again, I think if I said that Jerry Lee was twistical we could all agree, whether that meant dishonest or immoral.

Finally, I have for you circumbendibus. I love this word! It’s fun to say. It means unnecessarily roundabout. Such as the way I got to Harrisonburg this last time. That was a circumbendibus route. It can also refer to a long, rambling story.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope it was as informative and fun for you as it was for me.