tole tole (Sp.)


Senior Member
English, UK
I came across the above term, previously, unknown to, me in a current all-Spanish thread on "gente o gentes":

Esta es la peor sobrecorrección, porque lo hacen personas bastante educadas con cierta capacidad dialéctica y arman unos tole-tole increíbles en estos hilos (Si les queda alguna duda, tole es "2. m. Rumor de desaprobación, que va cundiendo entre las gentes, contra alguien o algo. Úsase más repetido.").
(I think it should be written tole tole without the hyphen).

The Spanish in brackets translates as: 2. m. A murmur of disapproval which gradually spreads through a crowd against somebody or something. It is used with even more repetitions.
The fact that the poster thought it necessary to give a definition of it on a thread of which it was not the subject would indicate that it is pretty rare. As I suspected, the Real Academia says it is connected with Latin tolle (to destroy or raise up), but more precisely with the expression Tolle eum (Kill him!)which the Jews shouted at Pontius Pilate to coerce him into crucifyng Jesus. But I wonder if the word is also connected with German toll (mad/wild) cf. Tollwut (rabies) the connecting idea between these two languages being the idea raised to an extreme level. There is also the German hunting cry Toi,toi, toi! which sounds rather similar, and is also associated both with excitement and killing.
It has just occurred to me that the English equivalent of Toi.toi.toi! ,Tally ho! may also derive from tolle eum.
Do you think there is a connection between the Spanish and German (and English) words presumable through the Latin? The Latin origin of the Spanish term is already adequately authenticated.
  • Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Well, Arrius, I always like your ideas on origins of words, but this time, it seems like a coincident again. :(

    The New High German word toll is derived from *dheu- "to fume, to steam". Cognates are English dull, Middle High German tol/dol, Old High German tol, Dutch dol, and Old English dol, all meaning something like "foolish, hilarious, sluggish". Other IE cognates are Gothic dwals "foolish" ("ablauting cognate"), Latvian duls "dazed", Old Irish dall "blind", and Greek tholerós "dim".

    The noun Tollwut is of the same origin, from tolle Wut in the late 18th century).

    The exclamation/interjection toi, toi, toi! is said to sound like a triple splitting, which should help against daemons according to older popular belief. Another hypothesis says that it could either be an abbreviation or stuttering of Teufel!-Teufel!-Teufel! I'm not sure whether or not we can believe that, but that's all I could find so far.

    Hope that helps. :)


    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Thank you for responding Whodunit. I was aware of a posssible connection with colloquial German doll but thought that that might be the Volksetymologie. If these are coincidences,they are really getting uncanny. I take the Teufel explanation with rather more than a pinch of salt: why on earth should the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable (as Oscar Wilde put it) invoke the Devil? I very much doubt if we shall get any further comments on these obscure conjectures, especially since the summer hols are in full swing.. Cheers, A.
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