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The expression "bada bing" and often accompanied by "bada boom" is used when something was very easily accomplished or as an euphemism of the nastier bits of something (like in the Godfather). A quick look on Wiktionary and Urban Dictionary confirms this.

It seems onomatopoetic because of bing and boom, but where does the "bada" come from? The whole phrase seems to be a recent invention according to this Ngram, starting in the late 1980's (surprising it was not sooner with the popularity of the aforementioned Godfather being released in 1972) peaking in the 2000's (possibly in part to the popularity of The Soprano's). The phrase does seem to go hand in hand with Mafioso culture as well.

So, where does this phrase come from and when did it take on its current meaning?

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  • youtube.com/watch?v=Wds33irH7Hw - 1969 Bada Bing Beng Bong
    – Richard
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 19:27
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    I've always assumed that the words were onomatopoeia for drum sounds, especially those such as "rim shots" that were sometimes used to accompany vaudeville stand-up comics. Spread from there.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 0:35
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    @HotLicks like this?idiomation.wordpress.com/tag/badaboom-badabing - I always wrote rim shots as "ba dum tsh"
    – Skooba
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 14:06

4 Answers 4

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The earliest usage of bada bing dates back to 1965, according to the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster.

About its etymology, the OED says 'Origin uncertain. Perhaps imitative of the sound of a drum roll and cymbal clash (compare boom-boom int.)'. Lexico says it was popularised by the US TV series The Sopranos. Dictionary.com says 'perhaps imitative of the sound of something clicking into place'. However, the real origin is unknown as mentioned by the OED.

Here's the example from 1965, used by Pat Cooper:

They never let go the envelopes. Ya gotta pull—bada-bing-a-bada-bang-a-bada-bing!
[OED]


According to WordSmith:

In 1958, he [Pat Cooper] premiered a routine entitled “The Italian Wedding” during which he used the phrase “bada-boom, bada-bing” in between descriptions of relatives who were scarfing down piles of capicolla sandwiches. An agent caught his act and booked him on The Jackie Gleason Show.

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  • So it did it become part of the Italian-American lexicon because the comic was Italian-American and then gained further popularity? Did Cooper's original usage have the same meaning it does today or did the words in context actually define it?
    – Skooba
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 12:19
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The OED suggests an AmE origin, probably from Italian immigrants as the first recorded usage suggests:

Bada Bing:

slang (originally and chiefly U.S.).

Suggesting something happening suddenly, emphatically, or easily and predictably; ‘Just like that!’, ‘Presto!’

  • 1965 P. Cooper Italian Wedding in Our Hero (transcription of sound recording of comedy routine) (O.E.D. Archive) They never let go the envelopes. Ya gotta pull—bada-bing-a-bada-bang-a-bada-bing!

Etymology: Origin uncertain. Perhaps imitative of the sound of a drum roll and cymbal clash (compare boom-boom int.). Perhaps compare Italian bada bene mark well.

From American Italian Dictionary:

Bada bing! – bam!; Note: Popularized in the 1970s by The Godfather character Santino Corleone.

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    This pretty much tells me what I already knew. If Cooper was the first to use the phrase did it also carry the same meaning or did Cooper words with context actually define it as well?
    – Skooba
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 12:20
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    @Skooba - Cooper was the first to put it down in writing, but the expression was already used among Italian immigrants who took it over from Italy. In Italian “bada ben“ and other variants are still used as a form of mild warning. In Italian American-English it lost its literal meaning and became a more general interjection.
    – user 66974
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 12:38
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    Thanks, Hachi. If you have a source for that include it in your answer because that would be more of what I am after.
    – Skooba
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 13:53
  • The Italian origin is suggested by the OED, that’s why I chose that source where they mention “bada bene” as mark well. The environment in which the expression originated and evolved is Italian-American, (The Godfather, the Soprano etc.). Cooper just happened to be probably the first to put it down. Badare is an Italian verb that means, pay attention to, but also take care of. I’d reasonably suggest that’s where it comes from.
    – user 66974
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 14:50
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Of possible interest to the question of phrase origin is this French instance of "bada bing" from André Rivillet, Maurice Chevalier: De Ménilmontant au Casino de Paris (1927):

Bing, ba da bing... bing...

Une syllabe par pas. Dans le hall du Palace, Maurice étudie des danses anglaises. Un artiste, Johns, un jeune garçon qui a vu et écouté les nègres de Broadway et dont l'œil enferme les pas pour les faire reproduire par les jambes, danse devant lui... Ses jambes croisent, il se déhanche. On dirait, à certains moments, qu'il fauche avec ses pieds; à d'autres instants, il rase le sol et semble prêt à s'envoler. Ce professeur est consciencieux; il appelle au secours de sa démonstration ce langage des durées, dont le bruit approximatif se réduit : Bing, bada, bing.

This passage translates roughly (that is, by way of Google Translate) into the following English:

Bing, ba da bing... bing....

One syllable per step. In the hall of the Palace, Maurice studies English dances. An artist, Johns, a young boy who has seen and listened to the Negroes on Broadway and whose eye locks in the steps to reproduce them with his legs, dances in front of him... His legs cross, he sways his hips. It seems, at times, that he mows with his feet; at other times he skims the ground and seems ready to fly away. This professor is conscientious; he calls to the aid of his demonstration this language of durations, whose approximate noise is reduced: Bing, bada, bing.

This odd instance appears to be a French writer's rendering (in French) of a nonsense syllabification by a young artist with an English last name who has studied the dance moves of "les nègres de Broadway" and is demonstrating them to Maurice Chevalier. Obviously, this is a French occurrence, not an English one, but I think it is nevertheless noteworthy in two ways: (1) it is significantly older than the 1965 instance attributed to Pat Cooper, and (2) there is no evident Italian-American influence on the usage. It is at least possible that the young artist Johns really did voice a series of sounds that resembled "bing bada bing" as he danced, and that he was a native English speaker.

Although it isn't a clearcut instance of English language usage, the example does link "bada bing" to France in 1927. Another instance from France pops up in The Gramophone (1969), in a song title by Gilbert Becaud [combined snippets]:

Becaud's talent doesn't stand still, and his latest album "GB—Gilbert Becaud" (Decca SKLR4997 | LKR4997) he offers his latest image, singing in the most up-to-date French style, but in English. This is an excellent record with quite a new sound, and amongst his best tracks are Don't look back; Bada Bing Bang Bong, My little light and The show is over for tonight.

In English language version of the song, Becaud uses the phrase "bada bing bang bong" to indicate the sudden appearance of things seemingly out of nowhere.

"Bada boom" likewise has a track record in French as an imitative sound, in this case going back to at least the 1870s. From an excerpt from The Goncourt Journal dated 1873, translated and quoted in Paris and the Arts, 1851–1896: From the Goncourt Diaries (1971) [combined snippets]:

And there they were, Daudet, Lépine the musician, and Morny himself in the skull cap and big dressing gown in which he liked to play the Cardinal-Minister, jumping on footstools and beating out loud sounds of "zim boom, zim badaboom" while the Ministers of the Interior and of the Police chewed their nails!

A different translation, from 1962, by Robert Baldick, appears in Edmond & Jules de Goncourt, Pages from the Goncourt (1971) concurs on the "zim boom, zim badaboom" wording, and dates the incident to early (before March 18) 1873 [combined snippets]:

... waiting in the anteroom, were completely forgotten. With the result that while Daudet, the composer L'épine, and Morny himself, wearing the skull-cap and the long dressing gown in which he aped Cardinal Richelieu, were all three of them jumping about on stools and singing: 'Zim boum, zim badaboum' at the top of their voices, the Ministers of the Interior and Police sat twiddling their thumbs outside.

From "A Decoration Won" The Elocutionist's Journal, (autumn 1877):

"Sacrebleu! General, explain to me what that blackguard of a lancer is doing oin the middle of the empress' dragoons. The emperor is very much displeased!"

"H———s fire marshal! I had not remarked it. I shall go and find out what that means."

And the general of the division, commander-in-chief of the cavalry of the guard, trots—badaboom! badaboom! badaboom!—until he has found the general of brigade, chief of the general staff.

The Elocutionist's Journal was a periodical published in New York City, and the instance of imitative "badaboom" quoted above may be an original English composition. Nevertheless, the piece has a strong French inflection, with badaboom following close on the heels of sacrebleu in a vaguely Napoleonic setting.

From Theodore Botrel, "A Rain of Bombs" in a section of Harvey Grumbine, Humanity Or Hate: Which? (1918) titled "French War Songs":

A rain, a rain of bombs, / (Boom, boom! Very bad! Badaboom, bom, bom!) / A rain a rain of bombs! / Go into the house! Run, run! / Run run! Go into the house! Run, run!

It's Death, it's Death that comes, / (Boom, boom! Very bad! Badaboom, bom, bom!) / It's Death, it's Death that comes / Flying against the sun!

It also appears in a 1948 translation by Lloyd Alexander of Jean-Paul Sartre, "The Childhood of a Leader," from The Wall and Other Stories (1939/1948) [combined snippets]:

It was amusing because everyone was playing. Papa and mama were playing papa and mama; mama was playing worried because her little darling wasn't eating, papa was playing at reading the paper and sometimes shaking his finger in Lucien's face saying, "Badaboom, little man! And Lucien was playing too, but finally he didn't know at what. Orphan? Or Lucien?

And from a 1951 translation of Henri Troyat (a Russian-born French writer), My Father's House: A Novel (1946/1951):

"This time the thunder will be very near," said Tania. "Very near . . ." and she started to count, "One, two . . ."

A tremendous roll of thunder interrupted her.

"Badaboom!" howled Akim, running to the window. "I'm going to see if anything's on fire."

None of these various French or French-influenced occurrences of "bada bing" and "badaboom" (or "badaboum") use the two expressions as a single phrase, but collectively they offer at least some circumstantial evidence that the expressions may have arisen independently in French as imitative sounds, although I a haven't found any instances from the pre-Sopranos era in which they were used consecutively in that language. The matches from before 1965 that Google Books and Elephind newspaper database searches turn up do not suggest a comparable connection to Italy or to Italian-American usage.

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Most likely the expression is bada bing, bada bang, bada boom. It is an attempt to verbally recreate the sound of a drummer hitting his triplets when a comic was on stage. Cymbals (bada bing), Snare (bada bang) Bass drum (bada boom).

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