Rance Crain

Raise a Glass to the ‘True Freshman’ — He’s a Dilly

Jan 12, 2018

The term “dilly dilly” has gotten a lot of publicity lately in Bud Light commercials. Medieval people are depicted shouting “dilly dilly” when they approve of something, most likely giving a six pack of Bud Light to the king.

But did you know that the phrase actually came from a dill pickle contest started in 1933? When asked to rate which dill pickle recipe they liked best, the judges would reply, “dilly dilly.” Just thought you’d like to know.

(I sincerely hope this dilly of a fake explanation doesn’t hurt the credibility of my columns during the long and twisting road that is shaping up to be 2018.)

The most overused words in the English language during the college football playoffs were “true freshman,” meaning an actual freshman as opposed to a “red shirt” freshman who is actually a sophomore who didn’t play in any games when he was a freshman and so has four more years of eligibility.

You hardly ever hear the announcers refer to a “red shirt” freshman, so I wish they’d just call a freshman a freshman, like the freshman quarterback who won the national championship for Alabama. The term “true freshman” sounds slightly sinister, like “true confessions.” But that’s just my opinion.

Rance Crain is the former president of Crain Communicatons and former editor-in-chief of both Advertising Age and Crain’s New York Business, and is also the former sports editor of the Daily Northwestern. In 1982 he created Electronic Media, a trade magazine that, in 2003, he renamed TVWeek. In 2015 TVWeek was sold to Dexter Canfield Media Inc. In July 2017, Mr. Crain sold his interest in Crain Communications to his brother, Keith Crain. The company had been started by their father in 1916.


  1. That was a dilly of an explanation. Your credibility remains intact and your sense of humor has been enhanced. Dilly dilly.

  2. My favorite use of “dilly dilly” is in the Sammy Turner hit song “Lavender Blue” — which peaked at No. 3 back in 1959.

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