Ticket to ride

Barb Wanless: Does anyone know how ticketyboo/ticketiboo/tickety-boo originated? I have the feeling it sprang from WWI or British vaudeville - I vaguely remember it being popular in works by P.G. Wodehouse. Can anyone be more definite?

Pat Hughes: Actually, it originates from the heady colony days of British India. I believe that Indian servants used to call their masters "babu". When the master would ask the servants about something (i.e. what the status of something was) the servant's response would often be "tikai, babu", which meant that everything was fine. The phrase "tikai babu" was picked up by the British colonists, and over time perverted into the really, really annoying current phrase, "tickety-boo". My memory may be fuzzy on the details, but I'm sure that's what I've read.

Return to the Archive Index
Return to the Word for Word articles
Return to the BrisMail Home page