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There is an episode in Woody Allen's movie Take the Money and Run. A lady is being interviewed about Virgil, the main character in the movie. And she goes:

Just to think that that idiot was a criminal, I just can't believe it. There was a mind working in there that could rob banks. It's phenomenal. Once I said to him, "what do you do?", and he said, "I rob banks". Go no, right!

I hope you get the mood of this passage. So, what does this "go no" phrase mean here?

Here is the episode on youtube.

  • From the context it looks like it's supposed to mean “go figure”, but it's not an expression I recall ever seeing or hearing before. Are you sure that is in fact what she says? Have you taken the line from the actual script, or have you transcribed it from what you hear when you play the scene? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 29 '16 at 9:00
  • @JanusBahsJacquet If it is a transcription, it could be "Go know...", but it still wouldn't make much sense. "No go, right?" would make more sense. – Mick Oct 29 '16 at 9:09
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Both – Mikita Cherkasau Oct 29 '16 at 9:15
  • It could also be a typo for “go on”, if you read it in subtitles. – Jon Purdy Oct 29 '16 at 9:18
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    @Mick I think it makes some sense, actually - "go know" – Mikita Cherkasau Oct 29 '16 at 9:21
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The transcription of the character should be Go know, right?

The subtitles (in Spanish) are ¿Puede creerlo? "Can you believe it?"

Subtitles from YouTube still

Screencap of YouTube subtitles from Take the Money and Run

The similarity with Go figure is useful: that means "Can you work it out?" or "Who would ever have worked that out?" or something similar. In the film, know is substituted for figure, with a similar construction intended.

Wikipedia mentions go know in its page of Yiddish expressions:

geh vays: literally "go know", as in "go figure". ("Last week she said she hated his guts and now she's engaged to him. Geh vays.")

Woody Allen's Jewish heritage is well-known, and apparently* he spoke German at home in his early years. This expression may have rubbed off on him then and appeared in English in later works.


* Baxter, John: Woody Allen: A Biography, Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc.: New York (1999), page 11.

  • Good sleuthing! Interesting how the correct meaning actually came through even to someone who (like me) didn't actually understand the expression at all and had never heard or seen it before. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 29 '16 at 13:49

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