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This week, I've heard "lookit" twice on TV. I heard Jerry Seinfeld say it on Seinfeld, and I heard Joe Gilgun say it on Preacher. And in closed captioning, it was written that way both times, as all one word: "lookit."

The first time struck me because I guess I quit saying "lookit" when I was a kid. It just seems like something kids say, not adults. But the second time I heard it, it really struck me because Joe Gilgun is not just an adult but also Irish and plays an Irish character. For whatever reason, I think I thought that "lookit" was an Americanism.

Anyway, I looked on www.dictionary.com and it doesn't even define "lookit," but to me, it sounds like a verb, like you're telling someone to look.

So here's my question: Is "lookit" a defective verb?

Example:

"Lookit!" squealed John, laughing and pointing out the window to direct Hannah's gaze. "That girl by the mailbox just smacked that boy on the steps in the head with that skateboard, hard!"

Later, the character Hannah recounts the event:

"John saw something out the window and told me to lookit, so I did," explained Jane.

So here's my second question: What if Hannah doesn't use the verb "did" at the end to refer back to the verb "lookit" but instead tries to use the verb "lookit" in the past tense, for example:

"John saw something out the window and told me to lookit, so I..."

What???

1. lookedit?

2. lookitted?

3. something else?

4. nothing because 'lookit' is a defective verb that can only be imperative?

5. none of the above?

Please explain and provide some examples.

  • Look at that. Look at it. – Xanne Sep 7 '19 at 3:48
  • Are you looking to ?retrofit UG? – livresque Sep 7 '19 at 3:57
  • 1
    It's in Charlie Brown too. – marcellothearcane Sep 7 '19 at 7:39
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    Here's the Peanuts strip where it occurs. – John Lawler Sep 7 '19 at 16:58
  • What's with none of the answers not actually answering what's been asked? They're all just random commentaries about "lookit," almost as if their authors never read past the heading. – Benjamin Harman Sep 9 '19 at 4:05
3

The usage doesn’t seem to be confined to children, from: Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage:

Lookit:

the colloquial AmE form lookit (first recorded in 1917), used only in the imperative, with the meaning 'Listen! or Look at (something)’:

  • Oh isn’t that the classiest, darlingest, little coat you ever saw! ..... Lookit the collar. - T. Dreiser 1925.

  • And lo, look-it there...a woman playing two machines at once. - E. Leonard 1985.

It is probably worth mentioning the apparently rising usage of the expression:

Sure look it:

If you study or work in Ireland for any amount of time it won’t be long before you come across this phrase. Now you may well ask what this means, and the most accurate answer we can provide is almost anything! It can be a suitable response to a question, a self-serving statement or a comment in a conversation.

“What a sunny day it turned out to be”.

“Aw, sure look it”.

(Englishstudio.com)

'Ah Sure Look It' Is Fast Becoming The Most Used Phrase In Ireland.

(lovin.ie)

2

US slang/casual/informal. It is so far removed from standard usage that many see it as an error.

Lookit began as a corruption of the transitive verb look at, as used by Theodore Dreiser in his 1925 novel, "An American Tragedy": "Oh, do look at those sleeves. ... Lookit the collar." But the intransitive verb has a different meaning. In Philip Barry's 1939 "Philadelphia Story," the character played by Cary Grant in the movie says to Katharine Hepburn, "Lookit, Tracy, don't you think you've done enough notes for one day?"

Lookit

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