The Discouraging Word provides a typically thoroughgoing investigation into the slang term “thank-you-ma’am,” meaning a pothole—a term that was new to me, so I suspect it’s regional or antiquated. TDW also goes into the expanded “wham, bam…” form, which leads to all sorts of unsavory matters. Enjoy.

Addendum. The term “thank-you-ma’am” is apparently current in Texas and New England (thanks, Bonnie!). Anywhere else?


  1. WBTYM — I remember the phrase featuring prominently in something by Max Shulman, most famous for Dobie Gillis but also a screenwriter in some OK movies. I saw it around 1960-62 but have no idea when the book came out.

  2. Eric in Texas says

    I’ve heard it dozens of times down here in Texas, so its not antiquated.

  3. Since TDW lists many sources starting after the 70s, I’m pretty sure the most famous source of the phrase was not music-related. As far as I know “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins, a basketball player in the 70s known for his dunks, had one named something like the “Wham, Bam, Thank You Ma’am Slam Jam” I’ve always heard it used as a sexual term, of course.

  4. Hat — from the novelty of the phrase, you infer that it may be old? Heh.

  5. Lars Mathiesen says

    The Discouraging Word is now a site selling shower doors to Essex dwellers. Eheu!

    What is a Sorry, Sam!, then?

  6. Thanks for the heads-up; I’ve replaced the link with an archived one (scroll down to Oct. 20).

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