looky-loo
Posted: 19 April 2013 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I was listening to NPR this morning.  A correspondent was reporting from Watertown (Boston) where they are looking for the remaining bombing suspect.  He was reporting how the streets were empty with the exception of someone on a bicycle “having a looky-loo”.  The show’s host remarked that he believed it was the first time in NPR’s history that the term “looky-loo” had been broadcast.  It made me smile.  The term is quite common here in Oklahoma where, for example, after a tornado, there is sometimes a problem with traffic from all the “looky-loos”, or people “having a looky-loo” at the damage.  I’ve always kind of thought it was a regional term, but perhaps it is more widespread.

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Posted: 19 April 2013 11:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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OED says chiefly US slang but doesn’t give anything more specific. Real estate agents say that “looky-loos” are people who go to open houses without any intention of buying. May have been influenced by “looky here” which the OED says is a US version of “look-a-here”.

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Posted: 19 April 2013 12:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’m familiar with it (born and raised in Southern California).  FWIW, I’ve always thought of the term as a bit old-fashioned (in a good way), but not necessarily regional, although I certainly wouldn’t stake any money on it not being regional.  Also, I’ve only run into it as a noun (for those who take a look at things they don’t really have any business looking at).

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Posted: 19 April 2013 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I’ve heard it here in NYS (not the City).  It’s not common, though.

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Posted: 19 April 2013 05:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The writers of the TV cop show NYPD Blue had a go-go dancer refer to a customer as a “looky-loo” once.  It sounded out of place to me.  Maybe the dancer was supposed to be from somewhere else, which is common.

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Posted: 20 April 2013 02:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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IIRC, DARE, which I don’t have in front of my, says it’s predominantly a Californism

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Posted: 20 April 2013 03:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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BTW, I’ve heard it primarily as a noun referring to a person.

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Posted: 20 April 2013 06:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Interesting; I don’t think I’ve heard the term (I spent years in Southern California, but that was long ago).  I’ve posted it at LH.

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Posted: 20 April 2013 08:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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"There’s a fatal collision on the Northbound 5 at Valley View, with Southbound looky-loo congestion backed up to the 605.”

It’s something you might hear on a local station traffic report, here in the land of freeways.

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Posted: 20 April 2013 05:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I first heard this expression used in the Lonely Island song, “Cool Guys Don’t Look At Explosions”.

EDIT: in the sense of “a person who stops and looks”.

[ Edited: 20 April 2013 05:18 PM by OP Tipping ]
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Posted: 21 April 2013 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Not heard in these climes (Southern England). The term reminds me of Henry Carey’s withering satire on the poetaster Ambrose Phillips, Namby-Pamby: or a Panegyric on the New Versification. I extract:

All ye Poets of the Age!
All ye Witlings of the Stage!
Learn your Jingles to reform!
Crop your Numbers and Conform:
Let your little Verses flow
Gently, Sweetly, Row by Row:
Let the Verse the Subject fit;
Little Subject, Little Wit.
Namby-Pamby is your Guide;
Albion’s Joy, Hibernia’s Pride.
Namby-Pamby Pilly-piss,
Rhimy pim’d on Missy-Miss;
That her Father’s Gracy-Grace
Might give him a Placy-Place.

The whole piece is worth a read. It’s very, very funny. Incidentally, Carey’s play on Ambrose Phillips’ first name was soon taken up by fellow-wits such as Pope and Swift and in short order became a blanket term for anything weakly sentimental.

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Posted: 22 April 2013 07:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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in the sense of “a person who stops and looks”

My wife, who has spent most of the last half century in small town Nevada says she has heard and used looky-loo in this manner. I don’t recall ever hearing it.

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Posted: 22 April 2013 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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In the 1960s there was a long-running television ad campaign for either a real estate company or the professional realtors association, for which the term looky-loo was written. At least that’s where I first heard it as a child in Portland. Looky-loos were people who tramped through your open house without any intention of making an offer. A realtor would only bring qualified house hunters. The ad was run very often on local stations at times when ad rates were cheap like afternoons, and late at night. Looky-loo became a catchword in low-grade humor from those who had grown up with the ad.

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