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cowabunga

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Jan. 4th, 2019 | 07:54 am

cowabunga (kow-uh-BUN-gah) - int., an expression of surprise or exuberant approval.


Coined as kowa-bunga by Edward Kean, the writer* of The Howdy Doody Show, shortly after its start in 1947, as one of the phrases that Chief Thunderthud used at the start of his sentences -- all native american characters on the show prepended kowa- or kawa- to words as a sentence-head catch-phrase.

Chief Thunderthud

In the 1950s, surfers adopted "kawabonga!" as a declaration of enthusiasm, changing the pronunciation slightly to "cowabunga!" possibly under the influence of Hawaiian kupaianaha, surprising/wonderful. Use had almost died out but was revived in the mid-1980s by the character Michaelangelo of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and subsequently by Bart Simpson, usually while skateboarding.

* He seems to have been the only staff writer for the show's original run.

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/750132.html
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