How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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David Giacalone

Evan, I should have used the more "popular" spelling of "gumbah", which is "goombah." I've corrected the word at my website to avoid this confusion. Here's how The American Heritage Dictionary defines it::

Goombah: n. Slang A companion or associate, especially an older friend who acts as a patron, protector, or adviser.

Etymology: Probably alteration of Italian compare, godfather, from Medieval Latin compater.

Here's what Wikipedia says on the topic Goombah:

Goombah (sometimes Goomba) is a slang term regional to the New York area used to describe an Italian-American. It can be mildly derogatory, but not on the same level as dago, guinea or wop.

Steve Schirripa, who became famous playing Bobby Baccilieri on the HBO TV series The Sopranos, introduced the term to a national audience by publishing a series of books starting with A Goomba's Guide to Life (ISBN 1400046394).

Goombah is a dialectical distortion of the Italian word: Compare.

At About.com, a section on Soprano-Speak explains the transliteration issue with Southern-Italian words such as "goombah", "agita", and "skeevy": "All of them derive from southern Italian dialect, which tends to make the c a g, and vice versa. Likewise, p tends to become a b and d transmutes into a t sound, and dropping the last letter is very Neapolitan. So goombah linguistically mutates from compare, agita, which means "acid indigestion," originally was spelled acidità, and skeevy comes from schifare, to disgust."

As for your headline: I'm sure you're not suggesting that it takes one tasteless goombah to know one.


David: You are correct about the headline. To the extent you are a goombah, I'm certain you are a tasteful one.

christopher king

Yeah, I had to weigh in on Antonin a couple of times this past year and both are linked here:


Now as to Italians in general, that's another story as I noted on Daily Kos:



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