Great Googly Moogly – Meaning, Origin and Usage

If you’re a fan of versatile expressions that can have multiple meanings, you would probably enjoy saying or writing “great googly moogly”.

The phrase has long been enshrined in pop culture, and some brave folks might even regularly say great googly moogly in their daily lives — usually to express surprise or shock. As you’ll find out in this post about the meaning and origins of great googly moogly, though, that’s not its only use.

Meaning

Great googly moogly is an expression that is generally used to convey shock, surprise, or disbelief — but as with many great slang phrases, great googly moogly is a multi-purpose form of linguistic art that can also mean that the speaker is scared or delighted.

Example Usage

Great googly moogly is typically a stand-alone phrase, used as an interjection. We would, therefore, be hard-pressed to bring you sentences containing the expression. Instead, here are some examples of situations in which saying “great googly moogly” wouldn’t be out of place:

  • You find out that you’ve won the lottery.
  • You’re eating a sandwich in the park when a pigeon swoops in and steals most of it.
  • Your brother says he’s getting married to that girl he just met last week.
  • Someone jump-scares you.
  • Someone shares unexpected news on social media and you’re looking for a quirky reply.
  • You look down at the price tag of something you’d really like to buy, and discover it’s much too expensive.

Origin

“Great googly moogly” has taken a long and impressive journey to reach its current form. The expression first appeared in the form of “Good Googa Mooga“, a song by the Magic Tones, in 1953. Just a few years later, in 1956, The Cadets added a related “Great goo-ga-moo-ga!”, to the song Stranded in the Jungle.

The first known iteration of “great googly moogly” appeared in 1961, when Howlin’ Wolf made a cover of the song Goin’ Down Slow, originally written by St Louis Jimmy Oden and added the phrase. Some speculate that the phrase may have been in used as “googly moogly”, without the “great”, even before that. Just like with many slang terms that arose before the internet, it is impossible to know for sure.

Regardless, great googly moogly became more popular after Frank Zappa included the saying in Nanook Rubs it in 1974.

It’s also interesting to note that the Canadian animated kids’ TV show Maggie and the Ferocious Beast often featured the expression great googly moogly — one of the main characters, the Ferocious Beast himself, says it multiple times per episode.

Great googly moogly has enjoyed a particularly long shelf life, and an entry defining the phrase, as “unadulterated excitement”, first appeared on the Urban Dictionary in the year 2003.

Phrases Similar to Great Googly Moogly

“Holy shit” is arguably most similar to “great googly moogly”, as it can be used in all the same contexts — to express surprise, fear, excitement, or shock. The British “bloody hell” serves a very similar purpose.

What Is the Correct Saying?

The correct saying is “great googly moogly”. Users and lovers of the phrase should feel free to adapt it for their own purposes, however.

Ways People May Say Great Googly Moogly Incorrectly

Great googly moogly is not generally incorporated into longer sentences and stands alone as an exclamation or interjection. We suppose you might like to talk about something as being a “great googly moogly moment”, though.

Acceptable Ways to Say Great Googly Moogly

The expression great googly moogly has a long history in the context of music, and especially blues. It can be used fairly unironically by people who understand this context. Those who grew up with Maggie and the Ferocious Beast are more likely to enjoy great googly moogly as an innocent and slightly silly phrase from a kids’ show, and that, too, is fine. Use great googly moogly to respond to something that surprises, delights, or shocks you.

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