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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Believe it or not... » » Origin of "ballyhoo" ? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

sethb
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Just wondering about the origin of the word "ballyhoo." Does anyone know?

I did manage to nail down "spiel" and "spieler" -- I learned that both of them come from the German word for "story," which makes sense. But ballyhoo has stumped me. Maybe Don Driver can come to the rescue here? SETHB
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DonDriver
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Hi SETHB,
Man...I just don't know.Maybe Doug Higley or John from Sideshow World would know.
The "hoo" has kind of been droped.I've always heard of it as just a "Bally"

Now you have me going...think I'll see what I can find out and report back here.

Later,Don
Todd Robbins
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Ballyhoo is a term that got it’s start at the Chicago World Fair of 1893. The manager of the Streets of Cairo pavilion, W. O. Taylor, had performers from the pavilion do short shows out on the midway of the fair. This attracted a crowd who would go into the pavilion to see what was on the inside. The performers would yell, “Della hoon” when they ran out to perform. Taylor thought they were saying “Ballyhoo”, so whenever he wanted to have one of this midway shows done, he would shout out “Ballyhoo!” The term caught on with other showmen and is still with us today, though as Don pointed out, it has been shortened down to Bally.
Owen Anderson
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So did "Della Hoon" mean 'step right up' in Arabic?
Owen Anderson
Doug Higley
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Della Hoon was a rather robust woman who worked back stage. She had 13 kids who seemed to regularly POP out one after the other. In the spirit of the show and expressing exuberance, the performers would burst forth from the doorway throwing open their arms shouting Della Hoon! An expression signifying birth and emergence and popping out so to speak.
When the demonstration of the wonders inside was completed...they all ran back inside yelling 'Bonafacio Patchagaloup' (Della's husband)...but that never caught on...now step right up friends...I can call you friends right...I have in my hands a One Dollar Bill...I'm going to form that One Dollar Bill into a cone...watch carefully...come up a bit closer...
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sethb
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I would have guessed that it was originally an Irish or Scottish word just from the sound of it, but other than that I really have no clue.

Maybe it's just a made-up word? SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Doug Higley
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Della was Dutch.
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DonDriver
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Thanks Todd and Doug.I love stuff like that.
Don
Harley Newman
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I've seen Todd's explanation in a number of places.

Doug's sounds good...he's in rare form today, which is why he's not often let out in public!

And I agree with the question about Della Hoon. I'd like to know the translation. Time for some research.
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Todd Robbins
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From what I understand, it translates as "hurry up" or "for the love of Allah, hurry". That means that the "della" is really "D'Allah".
Tim Cridland
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I have always heard that "Ballyhoo" was a corruption of an Arabic phrase. I did a quick search and found a couple of references that support this, like this one:

"In The Story of Language (London, 1952), Mario Pei asserts (p. 156) that both the word ballyhoo and the phrase so long have Arabic origins. He attributes the first to the Arabic b-Allah hu (`by Allah it is') and the second to an adaptation by British colonial troops of the Malay salang, which, according to Pei, is corruption of the Arabic salaam."
http://www.salaam.co.uk/knowledge/arabic.php

and this scholarly posting:

"Bally or Ballyhoo — ...... The word originated at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, in the "Streets of Cairo" pavilion. The performers from the Middle East spoke only Arabic. Exhibit manager W.O. Taylor would call the Beledi dancers (a term later corrupted, also by Taylor, to "belly dancers") and musicians out during slack periods to attract a crowd. Since these calls were on no set schedule, the tired performers would mutter "D'Allah hun", roughly meaning "Oh, for God's sake!", as they rose to the extra duty. "

http://www.goodmagic.com/carny/car_a-c.htm
Doug Higley
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You guys are doo doo heads and pee pee hats.

I like mine better.
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ringmaster
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Ballyhoo and hullabaloo, one for me and none for you.
Less than 2% of reported UFO's turn out to be actual interplanetary vehicles.
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