Bela Lugosi Invented the Word “Redonkulous”

When’s the first time you remember hearing someone say “redonkulous”? Was it Guy Fieri through a mouthful of fried cheese? Those pigeons in Bolt? Your friend Brian Dieck? (For me it was from my friend Brian Dieck.)

Last week I was listening to a 1948 episode of The Abbott and Costello Show because I am hip AF and got my finger ON. THE. PULSE. Anyway, Bela Lugosi was the guest star to promote Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and then this happened: 

(Listen to the full episode here or check out this larger archive of the series)

Bad joke about dodging a parking ticket aside… Bela “Dracula” Lugosi pretty clearly says “redonkulous” in this clip. Was it a slip up? He’s kind of stumbling through the joke, so maybe?

I tried to find an earlier use of the word, but I can’t. It doesn’t show up on Google Ngrams. It’s not officially recognized as anything but slang in the dictionary and all references I’ve found are from this century.

So the only logical conclusion is that Bela Lugosi was hip as fuck and he was coining cool shit back in 1948. Even if he did slip up, he was a huge star. All the hip kids in 1948 who heard it would have started using it because everyone wanted to be a cool sexy redonkulous vampire.

cover image via Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein but with the word “Redonkulous” over it