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It sounds like something Ned Flanders would say.

I believe it just means "nothing at all". But what are the origins of the phrase? Is it common in the US as well as the UK?

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I think, if it's common in the UK, it must have been borrowed from the US. –  pavium Jul 25 '11 at 14:06
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@ pavium. Oh ok. "Borrowed" implies we're going to give it back. "Stolen" is probably more accurate. :-) –  Urbycoz Jul 25 '11 at 14:12
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@Urbycoz: But "stolen" implies that UK removed it from US. "Shared" is probably most accurate. :-) –  Daniel Jul 25 '11 at 14:38
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1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The following is what I've found on the net about this phrase:

The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang lists the original form as "Doodly-squat," dating from 1934. No clue given as to the origin. Doodle means, variously, a fool, a Union soldier, a penis, to cheat, and to copulate. The dic does not list a usage for "doodly-shit" until 1966.

The dic lists "diddly-squat" as a euphemism for "diddly-shit," which does not appear until 1964 (1963 for diddly-squat).

It is difficult to draw a conclusion from all this, except I doubt it has anything to do with squatting in a dwelling.

Dave Wilton, posting in alt.usage.english

I have also found an interesting story about the etymology of the phrase.

(Editorial note: The copied story has been removed because of questionable copyright use. Also, the linked story is a joke and not a true etymology of the phrase.)

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+1: Nice research. –  Daniel Jul 25 '11 at 14:15
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This sounds like a version of the Jack Schitt joke. –  KitFox Jul 25 '11 at 14:40
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protected by RegDwigнt Jan 14 '13 at 19:44

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