The context is this video at timeline 43:26 seconds .

That's too fancy for me. I don't need no stinking counters.

What does this mean? Is it an American or British expression?

  • @Downvoter why the negative vote ? Is the answer readily available?
    – Geek
    Aug 30, 2012 at 10:49
  • A Google search for "no stinking" would have found the answer. Aug 30, 2012 at 10:58
  • 1
    It's General Reference that in this usage, stinking is just another expletive / derogatory adjective similar to bloody, damned, rotten, filthy, lousy, etc. Aug 30, 2012 at 13:11
  • @FumbleFingers I think not: the phrase in this case is more than the sum of its parts, as Gareth Rees' Answer makes clear. Aug 30, 2012 at 13:48
  • @GarethRees Yes -- but how does one who doesn't already know the answer know to search on "no stinking" as opposed to, say "stinking counters"? ... and by the way, excellent answer, even more than I asked for. Aug 30, 2012 at 13:49

1 Answer 1


"I don't need no stinking counters" just means "I don't need any counters" combined with a humorous reference to the catchphrase "We don't need no stinking badges." The reference probably carries no particular meaning: it's an instance of the practice of quoting catchphrases for amusement. (For more about this practice, see the paper Harris et al. (2008), "Social movie quoting: What, why, and how?" Ciencias psicologicas, 2(1):35-45.)

Wikipedia has a good history of the catchphrase. It originates with the novel The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1927) by B. Traven (a pen name; the writer's real identity is apparently not known with certainty). Here's the passage:

A few moments later the leader, the one with the golden hat, stepped forward right in the middle of the camp. He put his thumbs close together in front of his belt, wishing by doing so to indicate that he did not mean to shoot as long as the other did not draw.

"Oiga, senor, listen. We are no bandits. You are mistaken. We are the policía montada, the mounted police, you know. We are looking for the bandits, to catch them. They have robbed the train, you know."

"All right," Curtin shouted back. "If you are the police, where are your badges? Let's see them."

"Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don't need badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching' tu madre! Come out there from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you."

This dialogue was used, pretty much verbatim, in the 1948 film adaptation (on YouTube here):

GOLD HAT (Alfonso Bedoya): Oiga, senor. Listen, we are no bandits. You are mistaken. We are Federales; you know, the mounted police. We are looking for the bandits to catch them. The ones who robbed the train you know.

DOBBS (Humphrey Bogart): All right. If you're the police, where are your badges?

GOLD HAT: Badges? We got not badges. We don't need badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges.

Alfonso Bedoya as Gold Hat

Alfonso Bedoya's performance has been widely referenced and parodied, the most well known reference being the one in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles (on YouTube here). See Wikipedia for many other references in popular culture. The phrase is usually given not as an exact quotation from the book or movie, but in the compressed form, "We don't need no stinking badges."

  • so basically it means disdain for law enforcement .
    – Geek
    Aug 30, 2012 at 10:47
  • Not in the original context, no. The bandits are pretending to be police officers, but the pretence is obvious and they have been easily caught out. Gold Hat's bluster is an attempt to save face. Aug 30, 2012 at 10:51
  • You are right to point out Blazing Saddles. However, to me the most iconic movie parody of this will always from Werid Al's UHF, where Raoul from Raoul's Wild Kingdom receives a shipment of badgers he didn't request...
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 20, 2012 at 13:32

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