Your new fall catchphrase has arrived, along with the cooler weather.
Or perhaps “Dilly Dilly!” is more appropriate, given the nature of its usage all of a sudden.
If you’re wondering why you keep hearing the seemingly nonsensical exclamation creep into everyday language and social media captions, you’re not alone. Turns out, you only partially owe it to those beer marketers who’ve been famously throwing spiced honeymead wine drinkers into the pit of misery since a Bud Light commercial titled “Banquet” began airing in August.
It’s set in a medieval banquet hall, perhaps drawing on the popularity of the HBO series “Game of Thrones,” whose seventh season was drawing to a close when the commercial first appeared on TV screens. Those who bestow the proper gifts to the king are designated “true friends of the crown” and greeted with a hearty “Dilly Dilly.”
It’s catchy. It’s easily digestible and repeatable. It’s silly (silly). It can be used to express agreement, thanks or as a greeting, so it was bound to catch on.
But “Dilly Dilly” wasn’t a pure stroke of genius out of thin air. According to dictionary.com, the origins of “dilly” are in a shortening of the word “delightful” or “delicious,” probably from the 1930s. On its own, it has come to mean “something or someone regarded as remarkable or unusual.”
The phrase could have roots even deeper in the English lexicon, though. A nursery rhyme titled “Lavender’s Blue” that dates back to the 17th century uses “dilly dilly” as part of its cadence in most of its lines. Burl Ives recorded a version of a song adapted from that nursery rhyme, which was included in the 1949 film “So Dear to My Heart.”
The old British television comedy “Dad’s Army” also makes reference to the poem in an episode about preparing a wartime radio broadcast to the waiting empire.
After waiting its turn for quite a while, it looks like “Dilly Dilly” has arrived on the tip of our tongue – for the moment, anyway.