View Full Version : What is the etymology of "sis poon bah?"

11-08-2010, 12:56 PM
As proclaimed by Carnac the Magnificent, it is defined as the sound of an exploding sheep. Yes, I get the fact that that's a joke.

But what exactly is "sis poon bah" and how do you even spell it? I've heard the phrase before, otherwise the Carnac joke would make no sense, but I don't know what it is. Google is not helping either.

11-08-2010, 12:58 PM
Do you mean "sis boom bah", like what cheerleaders (supposedly) say?

11-08-2010, 12:58 PM
I've always heard it as Sis Boom Bah. My source is Walt Kelly (Pogo).

Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheering)

11-08-2010, 01:18 PM
And the sheep would likely go "Sis, Boom, Baaaaaaaa"

11-08-2010, 01:31 PM
I have heard that the term was originally onomatopoeia -- it is an imitation of the sounds of a fireworks display -- Sssss... BOOM! "Aaaahhh!" But a quick Google didn't verify that.

11-08-2010, 01:38 PM
Okay, this is for sure NOT the original source, but it is quoted herein:

Bodda getta, bodda getta, bodda getta, bah
Rah, rah, rah, Sis Boom Bah,
Weagle, weagle, war damn eagle
Kick 'em in the butt Big Blue!

Heard every Saturday at an Auburn game near you.

ETA: http://theloveliestvillage.org/profiles/blogs/boda-getta-bbq-hits-auburn-ala

11-08-2010, 01:50 PM
From my mother, who went to Edwall High School in about 1942:

Fadada! Fadada!
Fadada deeten boaten boaten radda dadda boom!
Sis boom bah!
Edwall High School, rah, rah, rah!

11-08-2010, 01:51 PM
I always thought Johnny Carson was imitating the old standup comedians in clubs that would have the drummer from the local band play random drum hits after punchlines, but I didn't find any support for that on Google.

Instead, I found this:

The first known cheer heard from the sidelines happened during a Princeton University football game in the Late 1880s:

''Hip, hip! Rah, rah, rah! Tiger, tiger, tiger! Siss, siss, siss! Boom, boom, boom! Bah! Ah! Princeton! Princeton! Princeton!"

This yell is Princeton's longest used and most distinctive cheer. It is called the "Locomotive" cheer because it sounds like a train engine that starts slowly then picks up speed. Princeton University also established the first pep club. All-male "yell leaders" supported the Princeton football team with cheers from the sidelines. (cited:: Valliant, Doris, pg 15)

From here:

I don't know how accurate it is, but it does list a cite.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
11-08-2010, 02:13 PM
I have heard that the term was originally onomatopoeia -- it is an imitation of the sounds of a fireworks display -- Sssss... BOOM! "Aaaahhh!" But a quick Google didn't verify that.This guy (http://etymonline.com/index.php?term=sis-boom-bah) agrees with it, and attests it from 1867, but unfortunately doesn't give a source.

11-08-2010, 02:15 PM
Speaking of sheep and Johnny Carson, the answer to my favorite Carnac The Magnificent joke was:

"Sis boom bah"

"...sis boom bah..."

And the question is: "What does it sound like when a sheep explodes?"

11-08-2010, 02:36 PM
sqweels did you by any chance read the OP?

11-08-2010, 02:37 PM
Nevermind then.

The Hamster King
11-08-2010, 02:51 PM
But what exactly is "sis poon bah" ... ?How most people react to incest?

11-08-2010, 02:58 PM
Here's what the OED has to say:

[Echoic, repr. the sound of a skyrocket: a hissing flight (sis), an explosion (boom), and an exclamation of delight from the spectators (bah, ah): see SKYROCKET 2.]

A shout expressive of support or encouragement to a college team. Hence as n., enthusiastic or partisan support of spectator sports, esp. football.

[1867: see SKY-ROCKET n. 2]. 1924 Dialect Notes V. 276 Sis-boom: ah, bah (college yells). 1961 M. BEADLE These Ruins are Inhabited (1963) iv. 48 Fresh from the land of sis-boom-bah.., the Americans had a hard time at first learning to applaud good play by either team. 1970 Time 17 Aug. 64 For the next 2 years it was girls, flasks and sis-boom-bah. But the public image concealed an all-night reader.

11-08-2010, 03:02 PM
See? Knowing how to spell it correctly greatly increases your chance of getting info from Google. :smack:


Max Torque
11-08-2010, 04:10 PM
"Bricka bracka firecracka, sis boom bah!
Bugs Bunny, Bugs Bunny, rah rah rah!"

Okay, so that one's only from 1943. I've read the same attribution as engineer_comp_geek up there, so add my concurrence.

11-09-2010, 12:11 AM
I can't offer a cite, I can only pass along a theory I've encountered: that, in a years after the American Civil War, it was widely believed that the younger generations were getting soft, since they'd never had to take part in war, which is just the thing to turn a callow youth into a man.

Football was championed as a viable substitute for war, and chants like "Sis boom bah" were supposed to imitate the sounds heard on a battle field.

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