In my days of youth (late-'80’s), a lot of us high-schoolers had a tradition. When a bunch of us were in a car, and spotted an oncoming car with only one headlight (this was in central PA–fixing your broken headlights was optional), the first person to see it shouted “PADIDDLE!”, punched the roof of the car, then punched the nearest person in the car. Everyone seemed to do this–I even remember doing it on the bus home from basketball games. It was the nearest thing we had to a universal sport.

A couple questions. What does “padiddle” mean–is it a nonsense word, or did someone else somewhere use the word to mean “a car with only one headlight working?” Secondly, was this game played in other parts of the country, perhaps under different titles?

Oh yeah, and when will we see a televised national Professional Padiddle League? There’s televised professional everything else in this country, up to and including roller derby and lacrosse, so it’s gotta happen.

Yeah we had this in Evanston/N side of Chicago too. Sorry can’t help you w/ the etymology.

A paradiddle is a drummer’s move, for snare drum. It’s possible that some drummers refer to it as a “padiddle”.

P.S. Where I grew up, you hollered “One Eye Louie!” but you didn’t have to punch the car or anything.

Mrs. Cal surprised me with this one. We were drivng down the road and she saw a car with a headlight out, and shouted “padiddle!” In her family they did it all the time. One of her bosses surprised her by doing it, too. None of them ever punched the car, though. They never punched the other person, either. Padiddle was a non-violent game.

We don’t know where it comes from. It got a big boost several years ago when it was mentioned on The Cosby Show.
“Padiddle” is not the only word used for this. I quote from one of the more interesting books I’ve picked up, Paul Dickson’s “Family Words” (p. 75):

“Kerfunkle – Cry that goes up when a car is spotted with one back light ut. “pididdle”, “unikey”, and “pop-eye” are all common terms for burnt-out headlights. These cries are used to keep score as kids try to spot missing light for points…“Fladiddlem” is a rare term for the same thing offered by Tracy Cobbs, as is “Diddlap” from Rick Zimmerman of South Euclid, Ohio. “Unibee”, on the other hand, is a motorcycle that is often mistaken for a “pididle” according to Debra Elkins of Amherst, Virgnia.”

Wow how times change.
I grew up in the late 50s and 60s.
Same scenerio but you got a kiss from your girl friend or at least the lady next to you if she was willing.
I like our version better.

I thought my brother made it up as an excuse to hit me.

The first time I yelled “Padiddle” and gave my husband a rap on the arm, he was extremely surprised. In his family the word was “perdiddle” and it meant you kissed the other person in the car. We play his version.

Pure conjecture - but the same demographic for this variation of “slug bug” comprises the readership of MAD Magazine - hence the use of nonsence words coined by the late Don Martin


We played Pediddle (you say padiddle, I say padaddle… ok, sorry, couldn’t resist) and Pedunkle (missing tailight) in West Virginia, but we had to kiss the back of our fists before hitting the roof of the car for the point to be valid. Of course, “house” rules varied with drivers. We usually kept score instead of punching (wusses or pacifists? you decide).

House rules varied with shotgun, too. Anyone play with blitz? The idea is that when someone calls “shotgun”, anyone can yell “blitz”, starting a foot race to the shotgun door handle. The winner thus proves his/her devotion to leg room, thereby deserving the coveted seat. Unless, of course, the shotgun-caller yells “no blitz”, nulifying the above ruling.

My folks were from the East Coast and taught my siblings and I to play Padiddle. We had to kiss our members of the family of opposing sex, and punch the members with the same sex. Eventually, we just hit everyone - it was easier to keep track of.

When in high school my coach taught me a game. If you make a circle with thumb and index finger (the okay gesture) and someone looks at it, you get to hit them. There were many more rules to it (the OK had to be below your waist, you had to “wipe off” the punch afterwards or received double from the punchee, etc.) which changed from day to day, sort of like Calvinball. Anyone else play this? Anyone know the name?

To this day when I see someone make the OK sign below their waist I’m sorely tempted to whallop them. Conditioning, I guess.

I’m from western PA, and most everyone I knew as a kid did the ‘padiddle’ thing, although the first person to see the single headlight just punched his/her nearest neighbor in the arm, not the car.

Variant: punchbug, same thing but done whenever an old-style VW beetle came into view.

Well, I’ve been a drummer for 14 years, and I’ve never called a paradiddle a padiddle. Ever. Never heard it that way either. That quote is from a guy who took 7 drum lessons, so it’s not exactly the best source. Maybe some people in other parts fo the country do that, but not where I’ve been. The best rudiment name, anyway, is the “flam paradiddlediddle.” I always think I sound like an idiot when I tell that to a non-drummer.

BTW, I used to play padiddle all the time (from NE Ohio).


They played that game on Malcolm in the Middle. They just called it “The Circle Game,” if my memory serves me right. Which it probably doesn’t.

Like avacado, my bro and I play shotgun all the time. We don’t have blitz, but cause he’s older, he sometimes uses “seniority” in which case he can veto my shotgun, and it’s a race to hit the top of the car. But he usually doesn’t do that too often.

I play padiddle now, except I just punch the top of the car, and not others. It’s become sort of a a good luck thing with me, and I say it to myself, regardless of whether I’m in a car or not.

I have always played padiddle, except we say periddle in NE Missouri, and shotgun. In our version of perdiddle the first person to see it yelled perdiddle and hit the roof, that was all. My girfriend just told me that she had always heard that if you get 3 perdiddles in one night then it means good sex for you.

We played this game too, in grade school, and, later, in high school(?). The high school version differed in that the punch signal was formed with two hands, each made into a peace/V for victory sign, and crossed perpendicularly (sort of like a tic-tac-toe board or a sharp in musical notation). This variation had a save, too. If you held a peace sign up to your face, with one finger on either side of the right eye, you were invincible. I once talked to my AP calc teacher for five minutes with the sign held up because my friend kept trying to get me peripherally. Don’t tell me that public education doesn’t work.

We also punched if one made a quick motion toward an opponent/victim, and the victim flinched. You know, like punishment for having a central nervous system.

Avacado wrote:
“We also punched if one made a quick motion toward an opponent/victim, and the victim flinched. You know, like punishment for having a central nervous system.”

Well, duh! EVERYone knows you get two for flinching! That’s not regional, it’s universal.

As to “the circle game” we never had any safeties, but if you noticed the circle without looking at it, you could try to stick your finger in it. If you got it in and out, you could hit the circler (remembering, of course to wipe it off). If the circler grabbed your finger while attempting the in-and-out manouver, you’d receive two punches for your troubles (also wiped off to avoid retaliation).

Then there was Two-fer Tuesdays, where all punishments were doubled.

I’m counting the days until my daughter’s old enough to play this game with me.

Mid-Atlantic area, late 70’s-early 80’s time period.
We played Padiddle, too. Whether you punched someone or kissed them depended on the gender of the person you were riding with…friends got punched, cute guys got kissed!

We did this one, too. And yes, the rules changed ever so slightly from day to day. I don’t think it ever had a name.

Me, too! :stuck_out_tongue:

We have that out here in the Northwest too. We called it pop-eye in the 80’s, the kids here now call it slug-bug. In high school we still punched the ceiling but the first one to hit it while yelling ‘popeye’ was awarded a beer from everyone present. Two for a car with no headlights on after dark.
Something like holding your breath and touching a piece of metal while driving through a tunnel.
Or “Would you like a Hertz Donut”? WHACK “Hurtz, don’t it”?

I once had a girlfriend who demonstrated her family’s tradition of licking her thumb and pressing it to the interior roof of the car when we went over railroad tracks. I’d never heard of it before, and my new truck was just a month old! I almost threw her out of the truck! Needless to say, we agreed that she could either lick her thumb OR press it the roof, but not both, luck be damned.

I want to thank all of you for resolving a dispute that I had with my girlfreind.

Unfortunately, I stopped dating the chick in 1994, so this thread is a bit late. Fortunately, this incident proved that she was a whackjob, we stopped dating, and now I am happily married to someone else!

See, the broad was from Lancaster, PA, Pennsylvania Dutch Central. We were riding one night when a car passed by with only one headlight, and she said, “Ah, a padiddle!”. I asked her what the FUCK did that mean. She explained that it was a Pennsylvania Dutch or Amish term for a car with only one headlight!

After almost running into a telephione pole laughing so hard at this lame attempt at a sniglet, I asked her to explain why a culture that uses horses and buggies would invent a term for a feature on an automobile when us English, who have been driving cars for 60 years, still hadn’t come up with one (even 10 years after Rich Hall’s career went down in flames). Nonethless, she insisted that it was indeed an Amish term.

The next day, I even brought in a Pennsylvnia Dutch didctionary to work to prove to her that “padiddle” was NOT a Pennsylvania Dutch term, and most liekly she was delusional! Paddiddle ain’t in the dictionary, I said, so paddiddle ain’t a word!

And even better, paddiddle is not in my Microsoft Spellchecker (and neither is ain’t, by the way), so it doesn’t matter that I spelt it seven different ways in this post. Damn, what a great morning!

(But amazingly, another Dutchie term, “Piggy futz” is!)