Date: 4/20/95 9:04 AM

To: Grant Barrett

From: American Dialect Society

OK, so I was wrong about the Laugh-In connection, but it appears that (at least

from the time of the e. e. cummings quote) a (horse's) patoot(ie) was indeed

the hindquarters of the relevant animal, hence 'you bet your sweet patootie'.

Here's an interesting speculation on its source from someone off-list (Barbara

Abbott, Michigan State U.):

I do remember "You bet your sweet patootie", and I never saw Laugh-In.

(I've also heard "You bet your sweet bippie" though too -- maybe from

people who did see Laugh-In.) Anyway, I always thought patootie meant rear

end, but maybe there's another etymology. That first phrase (from David

Bergdahl) about a horse's patoot made me think they were referring to road

apples (similar (in substance if not form) to what we used to call "cow

pies"), and why not call them horse potatoes (they look more like potatoes

than apples anyway!)? From there ("horse's patootie") it would be a

natural blunder to reconstrue "patootie"/"patoot" as rear end, and

something worthy of betting.

Sounds good to me. And let it no longer be said that I don't know my bippy

from my patootie.