CLOSE

11 Perfectamundo Phrases from Happy Days

This week, in 1984, the very last episode of Happy Days aired. That ‘70s show about 1950s nostalgia ran for an epic 11 seasons and spun off several series including Laverne & Shirley, Joanie Loves Chachi, and Mork & Mindy (the present-day setting of which was explained by Mork’s time traveling abilities).

What Happy Days also gave us was a litany of catchphrases and slang that are now an integral part of our pop culture lexicon. Here are 11 that are particularly perfectamundo.

1. SIT ON IT

Created by writer and producer Bob Brunner, the show’s most famous catchphrase might be an alteration of sit and spin or sit and rotate, which implies one should go sit on one’s thumb and rotate, a somewhat cleaner version of shove it up your ass.

2. FONZIE

“What’s a Fonzie?” asks Howard.

This nickname for Arthur Fonzarelli was another Bob Brunner invention. However, the Fonz was originally supposed to be the Mash, as in Masciarelli, show creator Garry Marshall’s real surname. However, producers thought the Mash was too similar to the name of another popular show at the time.

Now a Fonzie is used to refer to anyone cool, as was the case in Pulp Fiction

[Jules]: “We’re gonna be like three Fonzies. And what’s Fonzie like?”

[Yolanda]: “He’s cool?” 

[Jules]: “Correct-amundo!”

3. EXACTAMUNDO

A Fonzarelli epithet, exactamundo is a blend of exact and the suffix intensifier -amundo, which might come from the Spanish mundo, meaning “world.”

While exactamundo might seem like the most popular -amundo blend, it wasn’t Fonzie’s first. A dedicated poster at Sitcoms Online has compiled a thorough record of “AMDUNDO SPOTTINGS” in the show. (There's also this terrific supercut.) Congratsamundo seems to be the first usage, while other variations include coolamundofabamundo, and dumpamundo.

4. CHUCK CUNNINGHAM SYNDROME

 

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain


Happy Days
 aficionados will remember that Joanie and Richie once had an older brother named Chuck. Alas, poor Chuck was dropped after a mere nine episodes, and neither his ephemeral presence nor his sudden departure were ever acknowledged or explained.

At least he had a TV trope named after him: the Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, in which a character disappears from a show with no explanation. Related is The Other Darrin trope, named for the unmentioned replacement of the actor who played Samantha's husband in Bewitched. That trope can also be seen in Roseanne, with the swapping of Beckys, in Mad Men, which changed Bobbies, and in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which replaced the original Aunt Viv.

5. BUCKO

Richie Cunningham’s go-to insult, bucko is nautical slang that originated in the 1880s and referred to an blustering, bragging sort of fellow. The word comes from buck, applied to antlered male animals.

6. YOWSAH YOWSAH YOWSAH 

Another Richie maxim, yowsah signifies general enthusiastic approval while yowsah yowsah yowsah signifies three times as much. It was also originally the catchphrase of 1930s jazz musician Ben Bernie and most likely where the show’s writers got their inspiration.

7. INSPIRATION POINT

Speaking of which, let's not forget the gang's makeout destination, Inspiration Point. There are at least a couple of real-life Inspiration Points, including a viewpoint at Bryce Canyon in Utah and the Inspiration Point Shelter on the Henry Hudson Parkway in New York.

In a season seven episode, the smooching spot was almost closed to make way for an expressway off-ramp, but in the end was saved for future neckers.

8. NECKING

“Mom, it's hard to neck with a beak,” says Joanie when her mother suggests that she go as Donald Duck to a costume party.

A favorite hobby of the show's teens, the term necking seems quintessentially '50s. However, it actually originated in the early 19th century and meant to hug someone around the neck (and, by extension, to fondle, caress, and kiss in general).

9. POTSIE
 

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

“You’re such a Potsie!” Ralph Malph says to Warren “Potsie” Weber when he’s being particular Potsie-like.

On the show it’s explained that Potsie got his nickname because of his childhood affinity for clay and Play-doh. (Presumably, he gifted his mother a lot of pots?) In reality, Potsie was named after a friend of Garry Marshall's wife.

Potsie also sounds a lot like patsy, someone easily duped, which Potsie often was.

10. CHACHI

Charles “Chachi” Arcola was introduced as Fonzie’s younger cousin in the show’s fifth season, and later became Joanie’s love interest. Sitcom legend says that Happy Days spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi was a hit in Korea because Chachi translates from Korean as “penis”—hence, Joanie Loves Penis.

However, this might only be legend, at least according to Snopes. While Chachi is similar to a Korean slang term for penis, jaji, Snopes argues that most Koreans wouldn’t have even seen the show as it was aired only on the American Forces Korean Network, which broadcasted American programs exclusively to U.S. military personnel. Apparently, the Joanie Loves Penis rumor was propagated by Garry Marshall and Scott Baio during interviews promoting the show.

11. JUMP THE SHARK

We can thank writer and producer Bob Brunner for the infamous jump the shark storyline, officially titled “Hollywood.” Fonzie has been enticed to make a go of it in the movies, only to be thwarted by the obnoxious California Kid. This West Coast rival challenges Fonzie to a water skiing duel, as one does, which naturally includes some tiger shark-jumping. The Fonz (being the Fonz) beats the Cali Kid, and in the process, gives us a pop culture term for the ages.

Referring to when a ridiculous or over-the-top event marks the decline of a TV series, jump the shark was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006, although it has been in use since at least 1998.

(The opposite of jump the shark might be Riker’s beard, when a show suddenly gets better. This comes from a fan theory that Star Trek: The Next Generation improved after Commander William Riker grew a beard.)

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
geography
Why Swaziland Was Just Renamed eSwatini
iStock
iStock

With the arrival of a new African nation, mapmakers just got a little bit busier. The king of Swaziland surprised foreign powers and compatriots alike when he recently announced that the country’s official name would revert to eSwatini, the name it went by prior to British colonialism.

King Mswati III, one of the few remaining absolute monarchs in the world, announced the name-change decision during celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the country declaring independence from Britain.

"African countries on getting independence reverted to their ancient names before they were colonized. So from now on the country will be officially known as the Kingdom of eSwatini,” Mswati announced to a crowd in the city of Manzini, located about 23 miles from the capital Mbabane.

The king said there was another motivation for the name change: to avoid being regularly mistaken for Switzerland. "Whenever we go abroad, people refer to us as Switzerland," Mswati said.

While some consider the name change to be a patriotic move, others were critical of the decision, arguing that the small country in southern Africa has more pressing issues to tackle, including poverty, hunger, and the world's highest rate of HIV/AIDS.

The name eSwatini essentially means “land of the Swati” in siSwati, the local language. Editor and author James Hall took to twitter to break down the etymology of the name:

Several African nations have opted to shed the names given to them by colonial powers, including Botswana (formerly Bechuanaland), Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), Djibouti (formerly French Somaliland), and others.

How hard is it for a country to change its name, though? According to eSwatini’s Ministry of Home Affairs, it “won’t happen overnight.” The country will also need to register its new name with international agencies like the UN and the Commonwealth of Nations.

Adopting a new internet domain could end up being one of the more time-consuming steps, according to the BBC. But fortunately, citizens of the country might not need to run out to get a new passport, as eSwatini is already included on the document in a smaller font.

[h/t CNN]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Image: London Stereoscopic Company, Getty Images. Background: iStock. Composite: Lucy Quintanilla, Mental Floss
arrow
literature
15 Intriguing Facts About George Eliot
Image: London Stereoscopic Company, Getty Images. Background: iStock. Composite: Lucy Quintanilla, Mental Floss
Image: London Stereoscopic Company, Getty Images. Background: iStock. Composite: Lucy Quintanilla, Mental Floss

Born in England in 1819, novelist and poet George Eliot is best remembered for writing classic books like Middlemarch and Silas Marner. Despite the time period she wrote in, the author—whose real name was Mary Anne (or Marian) Evans—was no stuffy Victorian. She had a famously scandalous love life and, among other linguistic accomplishments, is responsible for the term pop music. Here are 15 things you might not know about the beloved British writer.

1. SHE WAS BORN ON THE ESTATE WHERE HER FATHER WORKED.

Eliot was born on the grounds of Arbury Hall and Estate, a sprawling mansion in Warwickshire, England with hundreds of acres of surrounding gardens and farmland. Her father, Robert Evans, worked for the estate's owners, the Newdigate family, as a manager and agent. His job entailed collecting rents from tenant farmers and overseeing the property's coal mine.

2. HER RURAL UPBRINGING INSPIRED HER LATER NOVELS.

Arbury Hall
Arbury Hall
Elliott Brown, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Eliot was just an infant when her family moved from Arbury Hall to a home in a nearby town. But Arbury and the Warwickshire countryside left their mark on her. In Scenes of Clerical Life (1858), Eliot's collection of three short stories, she wrote about the area and drew inspiration from real places and people. And some of her stories mirrored reality pretty closely. For instance, she turned Arbury Hall into Cheverel Manor, and Sir Roger Newdigate, Arbury's owner, into Sir Christopher Cheverel.

3. SHE EDITED A JOURNAL FOR PROGRESSIVE THINKERS.

In the early 1850s, Eliot wrote for The Westminster Review, a London-based periodical founded by philosophers Jeremy Bentham and James Mill, contributing essays and reviews using the name Marian Evans. She soon became the de facto editor of the progressive journal, though her role was anonymous. Years later, other writers reviewed Eliot's own pseudonymous works in the journal she once edited.

4. SHE WORKED AS A TRANSLATOR.

Throughout her life, Eliot put her language skills to work translating foreign works into English. She translated books like David Friedrich Strauss's Das Leben Jesu (The Life of Jesus), a highly controversial German treatise that argued that Jesus Christ was a real person, but not divine. (Upon reading her translation, one English nobleman called it "the most pestilential book ever vomited out of the jaws of hell.") Eliot also translated The Essence of Christianity by German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach and the Latin Ethics by Benedict de Spinoza, incorporating facets of these philosophical and religious ideas into her own writing.

5. SHE WASN'T A FAN OF MOST WOMEN WRITERS OF HER DAY.

Eliot was by no means a misogynist, but she did have some harsh words for fellow women writers. In an anonymous essay titled "Silly Novels by Lady Novelists," Eliot lamented the frivolous characters and unrealistic plots that she argued were nearly ubiquitous features of novels written by women at the time. Published in The Westminster Review in 1856, Eliot's essay asserted that these books, full of cliches and improbable romantic endings, made educated women look foolish. She also criticized the writing style of other women of her time, saying they mistook "vagueness for depth, bombast for eloquence, and affectation for originality." However, she did allow that not every book written by a woman fell into this trap, praising writers like Currer Bell (Charlotte Brontë) and Elizabeth Gaskell.

6. SHE WAS NOT CONSIDERED CONVENTIONALLY ATTRACTIVE …

George Eliot, circa 1868.
George Eliot, circa 1868.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Eliot's appearance was a source of avid discussion during her lifetime, and her looks continue to fascinate readers today. Eliot herself joked about her ugliness in letters to friends, and the novelist Henry James once described her in a letter to his father as "magnificently ugly, deliciously hideous." He went on to say that the "horse-faced" writer had a "vast pendulous nose," a low forehead, and bad teeth, among other physical flaws.

7. … BUT MEN LOVED HER.

Despite her plain appearance, men were drawn to Eliot. In the same letter where he called her "deliciously hideous," James explained his counterintuitive attraction towards her like this: "Now in this vast ugliness resides a most powerful beauty which, in a very few minutes, steals forth and charms the mind, so that you end, as I ended, in falling in love with her."

After various dalliances and a marriage proposal that she turned down, she spent more than two decades with the philosopher and critic George Lewes. But Lewes was already married, and as a result, many in Eliot's social circle (including her brother) shunned her. Though Lewes couldn't obtain an official divorce from his estranged wife, he and Eliot lived together as partners until his death in 1878, and she referred to herself as Mrs. Marian Lewes.

8. HER PEN NAME PAID HOMAGE TO HER LOVER.

In 1856, both to avoid the sexism of the publishing industry and distance her literary work from her scandalous romantic situation, she adopted the pen name George Eliot, a male nom de plume that paid homage to Lewes. In addition to adopting his first name, some historians have also suggested that "Eliot" derives from "To L(ewes), I owe it."

9. SHE MARRIED A MAN TWO DECADES HER JUNIOR …

After Lewes's death, Eliot channeled her grief by editing his writing and spending time with her lawyer and accountant, John Cross. Although Eliot was 60 and Cross was just 40, the two friends fell in love and married at London's St. George's Church in the spring of 1880.

10. … BUT THEIR HONEYMOON TOOK A DARK TURN.

After their wedding, the pair traveled to Venice, Italy for their honeymoon. Although Cross wrote a letter to his sister indicating that he was having a delightful time, Eliot knew something was wrong. Her new husband was depressed, agitated, and losing weight. She called a doctor to their hotel room and was speaking with him when Cross jumped off the balcony into the Grand Canal.

Cross was rescued by a hotel worker and the personal gondolier the couple had hired to take them around the waterways. The newlyweds eventually continued on their trip, and they remained married until Eliot's death later that year. Historians continue to speculate about the reason for his jump, and whether it was a suicide attempt—Cross may have had a personal and family history of mental illness—or some kind of heat-induced delirium. The mysterious incident was recently turned into a novel.

11. SHE INVENTED THE TERM POP

You probably don't associate George Eliot with Lady Gaga, but the Oxford English Dictionary credits the Victorian novelist with coining the term pop to refer to popular music. In November 1862, Eliot wrote in a birthday letter to a friend, "We have been to a Monday Pop. this week to hear Beethoven's Septet, and an amazing thing of Bach's played by the amazing Joachim. But there is too much 'Pop.' for the thorough enjoyment of the chamber music they give."

12. … AND A NEW MEANING OF THE WORD BROWSER.

George Eliot statue in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, UK
George Eliot statue in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, UK

Diamond Geezer, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Eliot coined a number of other now-common terms in her writing. For instance, she was the first to use the word browser in the modern sense of someone who is casually looking around (like a browser in a bookstore). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, in the 16th century, the word browser meant “a person who cuts the leaves and twigs of trees to use as food for animals in winter." Later, it came to mean an animal that searched for leaves and twigs to eat. Eliot's historical novel Romola marked the first recorded time the word was used to mean a person generally surveying something. In it, she describes several friends of Florentine politician Bartolomeo Scala as "amiable browsers in the Medicean park."

13. SHE WAS ALSO A POET.

Although Eliot was most famous for her novels, she also produced two volumes of poetry. Her first published piece of writing was a poem called "Knowing That Shortly I Must Put Off This Tabernacle." Published in The Christian Observer in 1840, the poem refers to the Bible and imagines a person who is about to die saying goodbye to Earth. In a later poem, "O May I Join the Choir Invisible," Eliot argues that improving the world during one's lifetime is the only way to achieve permanence.

14. VIRGINIA WOOLF ADMIRED HER WRITING.

Author Virginia Woolf praised Middlemarch's mature prose, referring to it as "the magnificent book which with all its imperfections is one of the few English novels written for grown-up people." And modern readers seem to agree. In 2015, a BBC poll of 82 book critics from around the world named Middlemarch the greatest British novel of all time. Several authors, including Julian Barnes and Martin Amis, have also listed the book as one of the greatest English novels ever written.

15. HER FORMER HOME IS NOW A STEAKHOUSE.

Griff House, where Eliot lived as an infant until her early twenties, still exists, but it's now home to a steakhouse and hotel. Called the Griff House Beefeater & Nuneaton Premier Travel Inn, the spot also features a pond, gardens, and a play area for kids.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios