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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Azizi Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon (50) RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon 07 Oct 11


Regarding the word "zip" or "zippy" as a source of the name "Zip" in the song & character "Old Zip Coon", and the University of Akron Fight Song, when was that fight song first written and sung? I doubt that it was before the mid 1830s, so couldn't be a source of the name Zip Coon.

According to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zip, "[the] Origin of ZIP

imitative of the sound of a speeding object
First Known Use: 1852"

-snip-

The onomatopoeia word "zip" is the source for the USA mail "zip codes".

However, my alternative theory for the source of the word "zip", note that the chorus of the song "Zip Coon" includes the word "zip":

O zip a duden duden duden zip a duden day.
O zip a duden duden duden duden duden day.
O zip a duden duden duden duden duden day.
O zip a duden duden duden zip a duden day.

-snip-

It seems obvious to me that this chorus is the source of the song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" which first appeared in the Walt Disney 1946 live action and animated movie "Song of the South". However, I'm not sure if the 1834 date for that version of the song "Zip Coon" is correct. If so, then I would probably revise my thinking about the Hebrew name "Zippor" being the source of the name & song title "Zip Coon".

I think that "zip" in that Zip Coon chorus and in the Disney song conveys a spirit of zest, carefree energy, and enjoyment, but not necessarily speed. As such that word would be a good fit for the White crafted character of the Black urban dandy- a person who wasn't a threat to the White status quo because he was just carefree and only interested in making music, and courting (if not marrying) Black women.

Also, to those who may have wondered, according to http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa082497.htm, the word "zipper" for a Separable Fastener' wasn't in popular use until the 1930s. So the word "zipper" isn't a source of the name "Zip" in Zip Coon".

-snip-

In response to Bob the Postman's comment about the "humorous" use of classic names for enslaved Black people, Biblical names were also given to or chosen by enslaved African Americans. Some of those names (or some versions of those names) aren't commonly used in the 20th/21st century USA, but may have been more commonly used in the 19th century. Be that as it may, I think my two theories for the source of the name "Zip" are much more plausible than a mispronunciation of "Scipio Africanus" as the source of part or the entire name "Zip Coon".

**

In conclusion, if I had to choose which one of my theories about the name "Zip Coon" I think is the most plausible, I'd go with door number #2- the word "zip" in the chorus of the Zip Coon song is the source for the name "Zip Coon". It's probable that the similarly spelled and pronounced Hebrew male name "Zippor" is nothing more than a coincidence.

Azizi Powell


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