lollapalooza / lallapaloosa
A lollapalooza is something that is outstanding or excellent. The origin is unknown, but it is almost certainly a fanciful formation and is likely related to the use of lolla or la-la to mean something excellent. Both lollapalooza and lolla date to the turn of the 20th century.
From George Ade’s 1896 novel Artie:
“But the girls—wow!”
And we have la-la from a decade earlier. From The Lantern (New Orleans) of 8 September 1886:
[A racehorse that is] a regular la-la boy.
And from the same issue:
Gave him a quarter to find their la-la’s, Messrs. Tim Davis and his friend Wertenberger.
A letter by Frederick Remington written in 1888 has this:
I would be a “lolly” [of a savage]—but why harrow ourselves with such vain regrets.
(Source: Historical Dictionary of American Slang)
Copyright 1997-2014, by David Wilton