Kit and Caboodle

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9 comments on this post.
  1. Yael:

    This is rather tangential, but you having mentioned a soldier’s ‘kit bag’ reminds me of a fun little Hebrew idiom, which I thought to share: ‘kitbag question’.
    Some background: in Israel, there’s a whole bunch of military jargon terms that have been borrowed from English (which makes sense, seeing as a lot of the Israeli military was based on the British army) – ‘kit bag’, or ‘kitbag’, is one, as is ‘pass’ (that piece of paper signed by an officer that says it’s okay for you to be out of your base), ‘after’ (a short leave, from ‘after-duty’), and a bit more archaically, ‘mesting’ (from ‘mess tin’, which the internet tells me is also called a ‘mess kit’, which brings us back to ‘kit bag’).
    Anyway, the IDF ‘kitbag’ is a standard-issue large bag or sack that soldiers receive upon enlisting to stow all their stuff; and while most soldiers prefer to use normal bags or backpacks, in the strange little world of basic training you are supposed to actually be using that POS as part of your standard gear. And since it is a large, heavy and unwieldy object, the drill sergeants obviously rejoice in having soldiers carry it whether they need to or not.
    Thus comes the (perhaps apocryphal, perhaps based on a grain of truth) story of a troop of soldiers in basic training being told they need to be in spot X within Y minutes, and the one schlemiel who decides to ask ‘should we take our kitbags?’ – the sergeant’s answer being ‘yes’, of course, giving the whole troop extra work.
    So, a ‘kitbag question’ is a question that shouldn’t have been asked, since it causes everyone involved more grief than was previously necessary, e.g. ‘Are we supposed to finish this project before the weekend?’ or ‘Will we have a quiz next week?’ (assuming that the answer will be ‘yes’, and that it might not have been so if the question hasn’t been asked). There is some interpretation that a ‘kitbag question’ is any question with a painfully obvious answer, but I think usage leans more toward what I previously described.

    I hope that wasn’t too long and rambling; I just happen to like this expression, which in some environments can be pretty useful.

  2. admin:

    “Kitbag question” is great, and your explanation is fascinating — thanks. I don’t know of any other expression that so perfectly sums up that “I can’t believe that fool asked that…”

  3. Dewayne Erdman:

    My friend referred me to your site, so I thought I’d come have a read. Very interesting material, will be back for more!

  4. All that and more! « Tidbits & Treasures:

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  5. Jim Thuston:

    When Iwas a young lad , What we called bum’s in the old days, Would come around to the back of my grand mother restrant, for food she would feed them, they put most of the food in a pice of cloth tied it up and stuck it on a stick they caried over their shoulder. they they called their kit and caboutal JR

  6. Stephen West:

    I suspect the original context to be that of a soldier in the field. More specifically in the context of food. “Kit” by itself is the collection of things that each soldier needs. A “Boodle” is a stash of food (Ask any West Point Cadet what Boodle is). In the context of Boodle, a Kit may be specifically the Kit of stuff for preparing food (one of the larger kits). The term Kit and Caboodle (Cadre’s Boodle) may mean the entire kitchen and all the food. Without which you (the soldiers) are left wanting.

  7. Sandi:

    I LOVE words and having a place to find out what phrases mean is a great find for me. Thanks for this interesting discussion! I’ll be back…Maybe with a question!

  8. John Turner:

    Another possibility is that “Kit and Caboodle” is a sonorous retake on “Kith And Boodle” — short for “not just my friends but all the rest too”, and akin to “taking the good with the bad”.

  9. Dolly:

    We love looking up old sayings but find that there are several that are not found on the internet. Also, one day we were talking about something and both said the same thing at the same time and I said “MIND OF A FEATHER”, and we laughed and laughed at that. I have never heard that used before and it just popped out. I know it is similar to “birds of a feather”, but I’m claiming it.

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