Kilroy Was Here

In college one day in 1983, I trekked to a campus nook little frequented by anyone except druggies and very, very bored people (guess which one I was), and drew a Kilroy on the wall with “Kilroy hic erat”. When I later returned, some wit had written: “And if you ever return, Kilroy, we’d like to thank you for spreading a little culture by writing it in Latin.”

(Maybe this should go under MPSIMS, but I’ll recklessly go ahead and post it here.)

Another thing. At work one day, I drew a big U-shaped nose and put it on a half wall, then amused my coworkers by posing so the upper part of my head was showing above the U-shaped nose. (For some reason, this was not long before the nice men in white coats came by to fit me with a really keen new jacket with sleeves in the back.)

Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable gives George Edward Chatterton the credit for introducing the cartoon character Chad in 1938. Chatterton was a cartoonist who worked under the name “Chat”.

DaveoRad: Sorry to pick nits but–Who am I kidding? I love to pick nits. Erat is in the imperfect tense, implying Kilroy was here repeatedly or habitually. You probably should have written Kilroy hic fuit (Kilroy was here [on one occasion].) You could cut the word count to two with Kilroy affuit (Kilroy was present [on one occasion]). But besides a form of adesse, affuit is also a form of affuere, so Kilroy affuit might mean “Kilroy flows away.”

Actually, instead of “tense”, don’t you mean “aspect”, or is the imperfect treated as a tense in Latin? (It’s been almost two decades since I studied the language.) I’ll somewhat grumblingly concede that your nitpicking may have hit pay dirt, though the “nit” in question may be just a piece of dandruff. Actually, if I were in a more belligerent mood, I’d argue that, as I (a.k.a. Kilroy) had been there habitually on numerous occasions, “erat” was used properly. As for flowing away, I got the impression that several choice liquids had in fact flowed away from the site in question. (But isn’t there actually an “l” in “affluit/affluere”, which would eliminate the ambiguity you propose? Sorry, now it’s my turn to apologise for picking nits. :slight_smile:

Welcome to the nit-pickers’ club.

affuere and affluere are two separate words, with similar meanings. See Latin Word Forms

I was taught that the imperfect tense indicates progressive aspect and past time. There are some who consider imperfect to be the aspect, not the tense.

In Australia, the cartoon figure peering over a wall was (is?) usually subtitled ‘Foo was here’. Has Foo got an overseas presence as well, and does anyone know why ‘Foo’ rather than Kilroy, Overby etc? :slight_smile:


In The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, David Crystal writes that the Kilroy/Chad drawing may have been based on a diagram, “such as that of an alternating wave form, which could have been part of a lecture to military personnel.” Can anyone support or refute that theory?

I recall that in the early 80s ‘Kilroy was here’ enjoyed a brief comeback in & around my high school. It was brought about by Styx releasing an album of the same name (the one with Mr. Roboto) and a history teacher who had WWII memories to share. Not relevent to anything I know, but I just wanted to share.

Does anyone have a graphic of Kilroy? I vaguely remember seeing it, but would like to see it again…

thanx. -dd/

I don’t know about the usage “Foo was here” with the Chad drawing, but the Jargon File has a bit to say about the usage of the word “foo”. It makes a good read.

Why does the article comment on Kilroy’s “ubiquitousness” when (it seems to me) his “ubiquity” would do just as well. Or is this just loquaciousness carried to an extreme? Is rampant syllabification now considered standardizedness? This is nonsensicality at its worst!

“Overby” ?

Examples? Background? Proof?

As for ubiquitousnessosityism, Washington D.C. has Cool “Disco” Dan, whose name adorns numerous structures all over the D.C. metro area. My dad said that he saw his name spray-painted as far away as Miami. C.D.D. doesn’t have an illustration, just his name.

I remember reading a story about the Canadian version Clem.
After he started appearing everywhere at a university campus, one professor addressed his class and told them not to spread the graffitti anymore. The next day when he returned to his classroom, he found the little guy scrawled on his desk with the words “Wot, no more Clem?”

Since it looks like CKDext isn’t going to answer my query, I’ll postulate that he was only tendering an offhand tribute to Maurice “Otherguy” Overby, a terrific con-man character created by the late genius crime novelist Ross Thomas, who appeared in Chinaman’s Chance (1978), Out On the Rim (1987), and Voodoo, Ltd. (1992).

“We first met Otherguy where – in Manila?”
“Yeah, Manila,” Wu said.
“He was always just a couple of jumps ahead of the law, but when the cops sometimes caught up with him, he always managed to blame it on some other guy. The San Francisco cops hung the name on him, and now he hardly answers to anything else.” Durant looked at Wu. “What’s his real name – Maurice?”
“Uh-huh,” Wu said. “Maurice.”
“Is he a thief or what?” Ebsworth said.
“I suppose he’s stolen a few things in his life,” Wu said. “But mostly he’s a hustler who tries to work a medium-sized con. He’s also a dedicated gossip. That’s what we’ve sometimes used him for. Information.”


and it’s not too bad.

I was holding my baby daughter in a sling pouch. She peered over the side, with her nose just over the edge and her fingers on either side of her face. My wife said, “How cute! She looks like Ziggy!”

“Ziggy?” I asked.

“Yeah, the bald guy sticking his over a wall. Ziggy!”

I told her, “That’s a comic strip character. The wall guy is Kilroy.”

“No, it’s Ziggy”

(ad infinitum)

My wife’s high school also collected pull tabs for dialysis. Shows what I have to deal with.