Printable Version
Pronunciation: kê-bu-dêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: (Slang) A boodle, a large set or collection, a crowd, everything in a set or group.

Notes: Today's Good Word has been all but lost to the language in North America except for its appearance in the crystallized idiomatic phrase the whole kit and caboodle meaning "every piece of a set". This is quite different from the kitten caboodle, which would be a complete family of kittens. Occasionally we hear the whole caboodle or even to sell the caboodle, but such occurrences are now passing rare.

In Play: To save this very Good and funny little word we need to use it in creative ways: "Completing this project on time will require a caboodle of programmers working full time on it." Somehow this sounds much more emphatic and dramatic than a large team. "Jack Uzi's salary as company CEO is $500 million a year plus a caboodle of stock (which is somewhat more than Jack's contribution to the company is worth)."

Word History: The origin of today's Good Word is not a settled issue, but we have quite a bit of evidence to work with. Caboodle is a variant of boodle "crowd" from Dutch boedel "estate, entirety of one's possessions". This explains the sense of "a lot" and the fact that its connotation is generally positive. The pseudoprefix ca- was probably added to the older phrase kit and boodle to alliterate with kit or it may be a US variant of the emphatic prefix ker- found on kerplop and kersplash, as suggested by Michael Quinion. A kit, of course, is either a complete set of tools or equipment, as a plumber's kit or shaving kit, or the bag that holds them, as an empty shaving kit. Put together, we get the senses of "much" and "complete set" suggested by this idiom.

Dr. Goodword,

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