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I heard myself saying something was "tickety-boo", meaning good, successful, or satisfactory. Does anyone know where this strange-sounding phrase originated?

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A quick Google search turned up this post on World Wide Words. "It could combine that’s the ticket — with much the same sense — with the childish phrase peek-a-boo. But some find a link with the British Army in India, suggesting it comes from the Hindi phrase tikai babu, which is translated as “it’s all right, sir”." –  Rahul Narain Jan 29 '11 at 8:44
    
@Rahul, thank you. Again, I forgot to look on World Wide Words. –  Brian Hooper Jan 29 '11 at 9:30
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@Rahul: You ought to also post that as an answer, rather than a comment. –  Kosmonaut Jan 29 '11 at 18:31

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

ठीकहैंबाबू (tikai bābū) means "Yes, sir" in Hindi.


[EDIT]
The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang

tickety-boo adjective fine, correct, in order, satisfactory. Originally military; a variation of 'ticket', as in just the ticket (correct), with Hindu [Hindi, —ed.] tikai babu (it's all right, sir) UK 1939.

The proper Hindi phrase is ठीक हैं बाबू /theak hai, babu/ (Okay, Sir) —ed.

The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang By Eric Partridge, Tom Dalzell, Terry Victor, Tom Dalzell; Routledge. (c); see: GoogleBooks

See also:
on phrases.org
Dalya Goldberger, 'Origins' on writersblock.ca

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Would make sense, since 'tickety-boo' is most commonly used in British English. –  Mark Maxham Jan 29 '11 at 8:36
    
+1 Also for the effort in going devnagari for the purpose. Should have included references. –  Kris Nov 20 '12 at 5:00
    
I'm fairly certain the Partridge dictionary isn't copyright Google Books. –  Hugo Nov 20 '12 at 11:21
    
@Hugo No. It is copyright in parts by various entities. That is the reason it is merely left as (c). Google Books is the source link, not the copyright holder's reference. I am adding a semicolon there. :) –  Kris Nov 20 '12 at 13:06

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