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?

  • I think, if it's common in the UK, it must have been borrowed from the US.
    – pavium
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 14:06
  • 1
    @ pavium. Oh ok. "Borrowed" implies we're going to give it back. "Stolen" is probably more accurate. :-)
    – Urbycoz
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 14:12
  • 2
    @Urbycoz: But "stolen" implies that UK removed it from US. "Shared" is probably most accurate. :-)
    – Daniel
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 14:38

1 Answer 1


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.)

  • 1
    This sounds like a version of the Jack Schitt joke.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 14:40

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