Site name and logo


Q From Christopher Key: Several of my Canadian friends use the term tickety-boo to describe an event that is proceeding quickly. Any idea where this one originates?

A It’s certainly common in Canada, but is very probably British in origin. The usual meaning, by the way, is more that something is satisfactory, all in order, or OK.

We can’t be sure what its origin is. Eric Partridge always contended that the word was forces’ slang, most probably from the Royal Air Force, and that it dates from the early 1920s or thereabouts (though the Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t find a written example before 1939). Considering the number of Canadians who flew with the RAF during World War II, its move to Canada isn’t surprising.

The difficult bit is taking the word back any further than the 1920s. It could combine that’s the ticket — with much the same sense — with the childish phrase peek-a-boo. But some find a link with the British Army in India, suggesting it comes from the Hindi phrase tikai babu, which is translated as “it’s all right, sir”.

Support this website and keep it available!

There are no adverts on this site. I rely on the kindness of visitors to pay the running costs. Donate via PayPal by selecting your currency from the list and clicking Donate. Specify the amount you wish to give on the PayPal site.

Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.

Page created 08 Apr 2000