3

Where does the expression, "and how," come from? How can we reconcile the literal meaning with the idiomatic one?

1
  • This seems to be the exclamative use of "how", which is perfectly grammatical. -- And is mentioned in some dictionaries: and how! informal very much so (used to express strong agreement): “Did you miss me?” “And how!”
    – F.E.
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 22:27

3 Answers 3

2

The first recorded use of this is from 1865. It seems to have been a direct translation from the German "Und wie!" which means the same thing. Another source suggests the Italian "e come!" as a source.

I am not particularly equipped to evaluate the Italian proposal, but as a fluent German speaker, I am familiar with the German use of the expression, and it is used exactly as it is used in English - as an intensifier.

"Is this not a wonderful use of the word?"

"And how!"

2
  • I suppose as supporting evidence there was a lot of German immigration in that period to the Midwest that could have exposed America to this phrase.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 23:32
  • It is also used in Britain. These idioms do the rounds.
    – WS2
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 23:55
0

And how is used to show the extreme re-occurrence of a situation. For example:

The school bus breaks down so frequently, I think they need to replace it with a new one.

And how!

That's my thought on the phrase.

1
  • This is simply wrong. "And how!" is used as an interjection for many purposes. Also, it's normally used as a response, to denote extreme affirmation of someone else's statement.
    – Robusto
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 13:53
0

"How" is so widely used and has so many meanings that it's hard to locate supporting reference material for the rarer usages. But I think most would agree that a statement like:

How beautiful you are!

could be roughly restated as:

You are beautiful to a remarkable degree!

Therefore, I would contend that the phrase "and how!" is best interpreted to mean "yes, and to a remarkable degree!".

(I'd guess that the "how beautiful you are" usage probably evolved from using "how" to ask questions as to what degree something is true, like "how hot was it"? But again, it's hard to find supporting references.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.