Megillah

Perhaps you have come across this cartoon show from the early 1960 on the Cartoon Network or If you are old enough perhaps you saw it in the original broadcast – Magilla Gorilla.

The star of the show, Magilla Gorilla, spends most of each show in and around Mr. Peebles pet shop adsorbing a lot of Mr. Peeble’s attention and a great deal of food. Many people purchase Magilla Gorilla, but he is always returned for a refund because of some hi-jinx or another. A little girl, Ogee, love Magilla Gorilla but is unable to persuade her parents to acquire the love of her life.

I remember thinking, years ago, what an odd name, but it rhymed and that was enough for me. I had not given that curiosity or the cartoon a second thought in forever. You might ask “what made me think of it now?” Merriam Webster’s word of the day: megillah: a long involved story or account – and a slang word – as in, “that was a megillah of a story.” It first cousin in slang is the expression “the whole ball of wax.”

Although megillah is a slang word in English, it has perfectly respectable Hebrew origins. Megillah derives from the Yiddish megile, which itself comes from the Hebrew word mĕgillāh, meaning “scroll” or “volume.” Mĕgillāh is especially likely to be used in reference to the Book of Esther, which is read aloud at Purim celebrations. It makes sense, then, that when megillah first appeared in English in the mid-20th century, it referred to a story that was so long (and often tedious or complicated) that it was reminiscent of the length of the mĕgillāh scrolls. The Hebrew word is serious, but the Yiddish megile can be somewhat playful, and our megillah has also inherited that lightheartedness. (from Merriam Webster’s Word of the Day)

Long, involved, and lighthearted: that seems a good description of the story line from Megillah Gorilla…in case you were wondering.

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