What is the literal and/or figurative meaning behind the term "and how"?


Boy 1: "The sun is boiling today." Boy 2: "And how!"

I get HOW it's used, but can't seem to find any info on WHY the particular phrase would be used. A silly question, perhaps, that has nonetheless intrigued me at 1:30 am. Please and thank you.

  • Meaning 'And to what a degree/extent!', the example, already using an extreme adjective (albeit metaphorically), could perhaps be better chosen. 'It's windy today!' ''And how!' Boy 1 could have pre-empted with 'It's certainly windy today!', or, in a less conversational register, 'How windy it is today!' – Edwin Ashworth Apr 28 '14 at 7:02

The Phrase Finder has this entry: [emphasis added]

Indicating 'intensive emphasis of what someone else has just said,' and how! is a long-popular catchphrase first recorded in 1924. The Americanism possibly derives from the German 'und wie!' or the Italian 'e come!', meaning the same thing, and once very common among Americans of German and Italian extraction, respectively." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).

etymonline has a brief mention:

And how! emphatic, first recorded 1865. The formulation was common in book and article titles by then (such as The National Debt, and How to Pay It), but Pennsylvania writer Bayard Taylor, in whom it is first recorded, seems to regard it as a German or German-American expression.

Someone was saying the other day,

Everybody knows that Spanky of the Little Rascals invented this phrase.

Ha ha!

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  • And the Spanish, "Claro!" – Wes Modes Apr 28 '14 at 6:56

It's a colloquial way of agreeing with someone's assertion, but adding the sentiment that the statement does not go far enough.

Boy 1 is saying that the sun is causing the ambient temperature to be higher than usual.

Boy 2 is saying that the ambient temperature is much, much higher than usual.

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It is an idiomatic expression which often defy logic or formal usage.

You already know, that it is implying an emphatic positive assent.

"The sun is boiling today."

"Golly, and how it is boiling today."

It reminds me of the ironic, "You think?" and the (way outdated) country expression "Boy howdy!" both of which express enthusiastic agreement.

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