Word History: The Stooge

So last time I said I’d write about the Three Stooges. Maybe. I said maybe I would! So this is halfway about them, in a roundabout way. It’s really late at night and I started wondering where the word ‘stooge’ came from. So that’s where we’re going with this.

According to some sources, the slang word ‘stooge’ was a short version of ‘stage assistant’ or perhaps of ‘student’ (mispronounced ‘stoojent’) which was first used about 1913. More specifically it means somebody who feeds lines to the main comedian in an act – sort of a straight man, but lowlier than that. The stooge is the target of the jokes, too. Not someone you’d particularly want to be. So I suppose Curly and Larry were actually Moe’s stooges – which is bad, because that’s being a Stooge’s stooge. A metastooge, perhaps.

Stooge at the Online Etymology Dictionary
Stooge at Wordia
Three Stooges at Wikipedia (whence the image)

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4 thoughts on “Word History: The Stooge

  1. I see all of them being back stage hands..They seem to always be doing that kind a work in their skits. Hubby just loves them as for me, just not funny.. Stupid stuff, but I guess during the wars people needed to have some Slapstick comedy:-)

  2. Auntie E – I don't even really understand why I like them but if I am in the right state of mind I do. But overall I am more of a Marx Brothers girl :)

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