When my book group was leaving my house the other night, I offered, with a smile, to get them their wraps. When they noted that quaint locution, I recalled my fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Bender suggesting we put on our wraps before recess. I added that Mrs. Bender also advised us to “red up” our desks before leaving for the day.
Nobody knew that expression. The Internet explains that red up (sometimes spelled redd up) has a Scottish origin and and is common out Pittsburgh way. It’s short for readying up, as in “getting ready” or tidying. Maybe Mrs. Bender was from Pittsburgh. Another source traces the phrase to rural Pennsylvania and posits a Pennsylvania Dutch root. Grammarphobia cites the Middle English verb redden, meaning “to rescue, to clear.”
Whatever its source, I like it. I like regional usages and don’t think they should be disparaged as non-standard, not that anyone in my book group did that.
Dana K. White, one of my favorite YouTubers, helps me red up my house and clear out the clutter. A Texan, she uses some charming idioms. What I might call a thingy or a doohickey or a thingamajig, she calls a dololly. My grandmother’s term for such a thing was whatllIcallit, but that was more for when she couldn’t think of a thing’s name than for things that don’t have a name. The housekeeping goal, as you might imagine, is to get rid of as many dolollies as you can.
When I tried looking up Dana’s word as doolally, based on her pronunciation, I learned that doolally is British slang for “crazy.” Take care in your writing to distinguish dololly from doolally to avoid both confusion and possible offense.
Do you have some favorite local expressions? What’s your favorite word for a thingamajig?