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You Don't Say John E. McIntyre writes about language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects.

In a word: tickety-boo

The Baltimore Sun

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word:


Tickety-boo (pronounced as spelled) is so characteristically British that you will instantly imagine it coming from the mouth of Bertie Wooster in one of Wodehouse’s Jeeves novels.

It means “OK,” “in good order,” “fine and dandy.” The Oxford English Dictionary’s earliest citation is from the 1930s.

The etymological conjecture is that it derives from ticket, as in the expression “That’s the ticket,” a nineteenth-century coinage for “just the thing,” or “just what is needed.” The boo may have been lifted from peek-a-boo.

Example: From Bartending 101: The Basics of Mixology (2005): Once the party starts, your primary — and perhaps only — concern should be the maintenance of a smoothly running bar, making sure that it remains orderly and well stocked. The ease with which these tasks can be accomplished depends on the type of party you’re having, but as long as you succeed in this challenge, all should be tickety-boo.”

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