What is frim fram sauce?
January 5, 2004 6:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm sure many of you are familiar with that jazz staple The Frim Fram Sauce. Can anybody tell me what frim fram sauce is, as well as what "shifafa" and "aussen fay" (oss and fey?) might be?
posted by ashbury to Writing & Language (5 answers total)
None of the three phrases mean anything; they're just made up.
posted by nicwolff at 6:58 PM on January 5, 2004

This article explains it all:
Frim fram is one of the oldest terms surviving as slang, cited in John Heywood's 1546 book of proverbs: "She maketh earnest matters of every flymflam" about a woman easily deceived. Flimska is "mockery" in Old Norse, and flim "a lampoon". Thus, as sung by Cole and Krall half a millennium later, "frim fram sauce" is the oleaginous goo of deceit poured over some unsuspecting dupe.

Next: ussin-fay is pig Latin for fussin' (just as ixnay conceals "nix"), which in turn has a slang sense of "playing about fretfully"; a whimpering infant is said to be fussin'. This locution seems out of place in a menu metaphor, but I can think of no other logical etymology.

Shafafa is a problem; it is too far from "alfalfa", and no slang term or Old Norse derivation offers a clue. I called Diana Krall and asked if she had any idea about what it meant or where it came from. "It's all about sex," she replied innocently. Oh. That would explain the lyric's "never satisfied", as well as its sauce of deceit, and supply another entendre to the fretful whimpering of fussin'.
There you go!
posted by waxpancake at 7:31 PM on January 5, 2004

Just like Safire, to present as authoritative some facile crap he pulled out of his ass. If Redd Evans, who wrote the song, had meant "flim-flam", he'd have written it that way; if he'd been using Pig Latin, he'd have picked a better metaphor. I promise you, the singer doesn't want "mockery sauce with fussin' and alfalfa" or anything else "on the side" -- she just wants some sexy shit that can't be put in polite words.
posted by nicwolff at 8:27 PM on January 5, 2004

Safire misses that sense 2 of FLIM-FLAM is more appropriate for the song, besides having a slightly older citation. Sense one is defined as "A piece of nonsense or idle talk; a trifle, a conceit." Sense 2 is "A paltry attempt at deception; a contemptible trick or pretence; a piece of humbug."

Not that the OED is necessary the final arbiter, but it does have the Heywood citation for sense one, which is where I suspect Safire (or rather, his research assistant) found it.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:27 PM on January 5, 2004

I think it all has something to do with the pompatus of love.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:00 PM on January 6, 2004

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