Nugget of Knowledge: Origin of the phrase ‘ta-ta’

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"Ta-ta for now" caught on with the British public so much that people often uttered it as their dying phrase

(WYTV) – Why do we say “ta-ta” for goodbye?

It comes to us from England. The Oxford English Dictionary calls it a nursery saying — an expression for bye.

The earliest we see it in English is 1823. Then, The New York Times quoted someone using it as a farewell in 1889.

But “ta-ta” caught on in Great Britain in the 1940s. A character on a popular radio play would say “ta-ta,” or “TTFN” (ta-ta for now).

“Ta-ta for now” caught on with the British public so much that people often uttered it as their dying phrase. It’s sometimes shortened to “BFN” (bye for now).

In the 1966 Batman TV episode “Better Luck Next Time,” Catwoman — actress Julie Newmar — says “TTFN” into a microphone to Batman — Adam West — then she has to explain the meaning.

Endora, the witch on Bewitched, used the phrase “TTFN” before disappearing.

The late Tim Horton, professional hockey player and founder of the Tim Horton’s coffee and doughnut chain, has “TTFN” on his grave stone.

Put an “s” on the second “ta” and the accent on the first “ta,” and you change the meaning completely. “Ta-tas” or “tatas.”

An organization dedicated to fighting breast cancer with education, prevention and research called Save the Ta-tas Foundation was set up in 2004.

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