an alligator joke (see you later/see you in a while)

prudent260

Senior Member
Chinese
What 's the difference between a crocodile and an alligator?
One will see you later, and the other will see you in a while.

I don't get the punch line. Could you help?

Thank you
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    "See you later, alligator" as a farewell dates from the 1940s or earlier, and quickly picked up the riposte "In a while, crocodile" (or "After (a) while, crocodile"). The phrase was the title of a hit song by Bill Haley in 1954.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    What 's the difference between a crocodile and an alligator?
    For the purposes of the phrase, there is no difference. The phrase uses rhyming. Two friends are saying good-bye to each other, and each turns what they say into a rhyme, by calling each other an alligagor/crocodile:

    (I'll) see you later, alligator.
    (I'll see you) after a while, crocodile

    "See you later" rhymes with "alligator".
    "After a while" rhymes with "crocodile".

    This was a 1950s popular song in the US. Those 2 lines (repeated several times) were the entire chorus. They made up a lot of the song. I still remember the melody. Lots of children liked the phrases and repeated them constantly.

    (cross-posted)
     

    prudent260

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I found the song. The lyrics are talking about a heart broken story, but the band sang the song merrily.
    Odd.:)

    Well, I saw my baby walkin' with another man today
    Well, I saw my baby walkin' with another man today
    When I asked her what's the matter
    This is what I heard her say
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    ...and the next line was probably "See ya later, alligator".

    Some ballads are about the lyrics, the meaning. Other are just music to dance to. You can't do a fast dance to a slow sad song.
     
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