I love using "cacamayme" in conversations when I really want to emphasize the "crazy" I am talking about.

I also love the Urban Dictionary's slang definition:

100% grade A Bologna.

Does anyone know where this word comes from, or how many different ways it can be spelled?

Edit - It looks as though the spelling I am using is Yiddish — here is a link.

  • I actually just found the etymology myself @FumbleFingers - it is Yiddish and it has an alternative spelling of Kokamayme. If someone wants to close because I just found my own answer though that is okay with me. – Rachel Jul 24 '11 at 4:36
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    @FumblFingers Try the more common spelling, cockamamie -- 427,000 hits. – Matthew Frederick Jul 24 '11 at 4:36
  • @Rachel Multiple sources I found say that the Yiddish connection isn't correct, though it's a common misconception. – Matthew Frederick Jul 24 '11 at 4:37
  • @Matthew Frederick my bubbe would be ashamed. What about the link I added to my question? I do realize it isn't the most educational of choices to cite, let me work a bit harder to find another. – Rachel Jul 24 '11 at 4:42
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    @Rachel Just so you know, it is ok to answer your own question when you find a possible answer. You can always wait a little bit to see if someone else is able to provide an answer you would rather accept. – aedia λ Jul 24 '11 at 4:46

The more common spelling is Cockamamie, which provides some likely suspects. Etymology Online and World Wide Words suggest that it's a jumbled and easier-to-pronounce version of the French décalcomanie, also source of the English decal.

Apparently decals were popular with children in New York City in the 1920s or '30s, where they came with candy and gum. How exactly cockamamie got its current meaning isn't entirely clear, though it likely relates to the frivolousness of these decals.

  • +1 - this is definitely a wonderful definition. I think it will garner the answer vote. – Rachel Jul 24 '11 at 4:47
  • Looks like this is absolutely right. From Henry Roth's 1934 novel Call It Sleep: "I cud buy fuh two cends cockamamies an' pud em on mine hull arm" (New York Jewish immigrant child speaking), although the singular is spelled cockamamy in this book. – Peter Shor Jul 24 '11 at 22:42

The actual word is cockamamie, and according to Wordnik it is:

Probably alteration of decalcomania.

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