bupkis, bupkus, bupkiss » buttkiss

Chiefly in:   don't know buttkiss

Classification: English – questionable

Spotted in the wild:

  • “WHile I don’t know buttkiss about STREEM speakers, and they seem like they’re trying to overwhelm buyers with size and specs…” (link)
  • “WEAVER as someone related to the project why don’t you just shut up…..mentioning names is out of line, you don’t know buttkiss about the …” (link)
  • “Younger sports fans don’t know buttkiss…” (from Stocklin)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Rex Stocklin (American Dialect Society mailing list, 15 May 2005)

Only two examples from a Google web search, both given above — these against ca. 117 examples of spellings with the correct “p” from Yiddish (ca. 74 of them for “bupkis”).

A reshaping as “don’t know buttkiss” would fit into the collection of negative idioms “don’t know (doodly) squat”, “don’t know shit”, and the like. But such a small number of examples isn’t a lot to go on, so I’ve marked this one as “questionable”.

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/05/31 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Mark Pilbeam , 2005/06/04 at 10:47 am

    Throughout my life uneducated Englishmen have referred to “nougat” (a French word pronounced “noogar”) as “nugget”.

    As an Englishman I had never seen the word “Buttkiss” before. However, my immediate reaction was to assume that it is a corruption of the Yiddish word “bubkes” (sometimes spelled as “bopkes”) which has exactly the same meaning.

  2. 2

    Commentary by estelle , 2005/06/04 at 10:53 pm


    betcha it’s from someone not understanding the yiddish term BUPKAS: not knowing much about the subject

    i don’t know bupkas about that.

    younger sports fans don’t know pupkas about the game.

  3. 3

    Commentary by Arnold Zwicky , 2005/06/05 at 3:23 am

    I suppose it’s my fault for not making it absolutely 100% clear that I understood that Yiddish was the source here. Now, as to how the Yiddish original is to be spelled in English — bobkes, bobkas, bubkes, bupkes, bupkas, bupkis, pupkas, bupkiss, etc. etc. — I make no claim, not even any claim that there’s one right spelling (why should I want to claim that?). All I’m suggesting is that some English speakers (ignorant of Yiddish, no doubt) have re-shaped the word into butt + kiss. That’s the eggcorn leap.

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