3

Oodles is a common word that means

a large quantity of something

The word is of US origin, but what is it's origin?

  • Oodles - "lots," 1869, American English (originally in a Texas context), perhaps from the caboodle in kit and caboodle (see kit). etymonline.com/index.php?term=oodles – user66974 Jul 20 '16 at 6:02
3

Oodles is a term which originated in the U.S. but its etymology remains unclear. The Word Detective offers a few interesting assumptions:

A few early citations from Cassell's Dictionary of Slang:

  • before 1867 “The brilein chickins an' coffee an' the OODILS ove flour.”—‘High Times’ by G. W. Harris, page 176>

  • 1869 “A Texan never has a great quantity of anything, but he has ‘scads’ of it, or ‘OODLES,’ or ‘dead oodles.’”—‘Overland Monthly,’ August, page 131>

(Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Chapman’s Dictionary of American Slang)


  • We do know that “oodles” first cropped up in print in English around 1867, meaning “a large or unlimited amount of something” (“All you lack’s the feathers, and we’ve got oodles of ’em right here,” 1887).

  • 1) The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that “oodles” is a short form of “scadoodles,” US slang of the same period also meaning “a lot.” This leads to the logical suspicion that “scadoodles” is an elaboration on the word “scad,” more common in its plural “scads,” which was also common slang of the time meaning, you guessed it, “lots” (at first of money, later of anything). Unfortunately, we have no more idea of where “scad” came from than “oodles” or “scadoodles.”

  • 2) Another theory, equally plausible, traces “oodles” to “boodle” or “caboodle,” one-half of the phrase “kit and caboodle,” meaning “all and everything” (“The Sheriff seized the house, the land, the dog, the whole kit and caboodle”). The “kit” in the phrase is 18th century English slang for “collection” or “necessary items” (as in a soldier’s “kit bag”). The “caboodle” harks back to the Dutch word “boedel,” meaning “property.” The phrase “kit and caboodle” also became popular in the mid-18th century, so the timing is right for “caboodle” to have been shortened to the simpler “oodles.”

  • 3) My hunch is that all of these words, “oodles,” “scadoodles” and “caboodle,” are mutations of “boodle,” if for no other reason than the greater age of “boodle,” which was actually a legal term meaning “estate” a century earlier. There are also other dialectical elaborations on “boodle” floating around out there, especially in the American South, including “boocoodles,” a mix of “boocoo” (from the French “beaucoup,” meaning “much” or “plenty”) plus “oodles.”

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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