September 12, 2004



Bob Newhart did it. Fran Drescher did it. Tens of thousands of Web sites have done it. And now, in the pages of this very paper, there it is -- a word modified with the ubiquitous izzle. Some clever Times copy editor, for a June article about Chrysler's new 300C sedan, created the headline, ''Fo' Shizzle, That Big Bad Chrysler Really Does Sizzle.''

The phrase made the headline because the person inquiring about the car was none other than the rapper Snoop Dogg, himself the creator of the izzle phenomenon and the man MTV calls the ''slanguistic sensei'' of the hip-hop generation. Snoop Dogg, born Cordozar Broadus, isn't just a multiplatinum recording artist; he's a conglomeration. In the decade or so that he has been around, Snoop has started a label (Doggy Style Records); has produced action figures, clothes and sports shoes; has appeared on television (''Doggy Fizzle Televizzle''); has starred in movies and commercials; has been the host of a radio show; and has introduced a language.

Slanguage is more like it, but it's based on his use of izzle as a suffix for existing words, sometimes substituting all but the first letter of a word -- calling himself, for example, D-O-Double Gizzle (Dogg) or saying to Jerry Stiller in a 2003 television commercial for AOL 9.0, ''Now wait just one minizzle!'' The most common variation is the one used in The Times's headline, but no word is sacred when it comes to the izzle. Affixes in music lyrics are nothing new. Prefixes, suffixes and infixes (added to the middle of a word) have been used in a variety of ways. Frankie Smith's 1981 ''Double Dutch Bus'' included a list of infixed names -- ''Bilzarbra, Mitzery, Milzetty . . . Titzommy, Kitzerrance, Kilzommy'' -- at the end of the song. Grant Barrett, project editor for the Historical Dictionary of American Slang, traced the actual -izz- infix to a 1985 song titled ''Roxanne Roxanne'' by the Brooklyn rap group UTFO: ''The izzi is the grizzeat Kizzangizzo.''

An early-generation manufactured boy band, Another Bad Creation, hit platinum in 1991 with its album ''Coolin' at the Playground Ya' Know.'' In the one hit song on that album, ''Playground,'' the adolescent artists sang, ''Into the Mizzark chillin in the pizzark . . . mother said be home by dizzark.'' Snoop Dogg wasn't far behind. His first recorded use of infixes came in his debut album, ''Doggystyle,'' in 1993. In the song ''Tha Shiznit,'' Snoop raps, ''Is Dr. Drizzay, so lizzay and plizzay With D-O-double-Gizzay?'' The izzle, which is used as a suffix rather than an infix, however, doesn't show up in Snoop's lyrics until December 2000 in the song ''Snoop Dogg (What's my Name, Part 2),'' in which he raps over the intro with ''Izzle kizzle, fo' shizzle'' and other variants. So where did it come from? Most people (other than hard-core fans) don't picture Northern California as a hotbed of rap music, but rap actually thrives in the Bay Area. Back in the mid-90's, early in Snoop's career, there were at least two rappers there using variants on the izzle suffix: E-40 and the group 3X Krazy.

E-40 claimed in an interview with that he was ''the first one who put [izzle] out there real tough in 1996 on my song 'Rappers Ball.' We were saying fo'sheezy and fo'shizzle. . . . That's a Bay Area word, man.'' ''Rappers Ball'' does start off, ''We off the heezy fo'sheezy,'' but izzle there isn't. On the same album, a song called ''Records Haters'' claims that ''3X Krazy laced me, taught me how to say fo'sheezy.'' Snoop himself said in an interview last year with The Portland Mercury that he brought the izzle into ''the mainstream for sure -- but it's a way of speaking that's been around for years. It originated in Northern California.''

There you have it. Variants of the izz affix have been threaded through rap music for decades, and the particular izzle comes from the earlier eezy, which originated in Northern California. And now the izzle is everywhere, and not just in commentary about Snoop Dogg or incongruous sound bites used as comic relief in movies (like Newhart's deadpan fo' shizzle in ''Legally Blonde II'') and commercials (like Drescher's nasally ''my shizzle's gone fazizzle'' in her role hawking everything Old Navy). It's actually been used, seriously, in the pages of Business Week and Fortune. Even Britain's High Court hasn't been immune, confronting what might as well have been a ''foreign language,'' as one account put it, in a 2003 copyright case. The case, Mr. Justice Lewison (seems they don't allow judges to have first names in England) told the BBC, ''led to the faintly surreal experience of three gentlemen in horsehair wigs examining the meaning of such phrases as . . . shizzle my nizzle.'' A truly remarkable bit of jurisprudence.

You can't go 15 minutes listening to the radio without hearing it in one form or another. There's the East Coast rapper Jay-Z's 2001 song ''Izzo, H.O.V.A,'' which includes, ''H-to the izzo, V to the vizza.'' And Atlanta's Ludacris does a cameo in the St. Louis rapper Chingy's 2003 ''Holidae Inn'': ''Fo' Shizzle Dizzle, I'm on track with the Big Snoop Dizzle.'' And even Virginia's Missy Elliott has an izz variant in her 2002 ''Gossip Folks,'' ''Izzy kizzy looky here.'' Is it here to stay? Maybe in hip-hop, but nowhere else if Snoop has anything to do with it. Though you can still go to and put any URL through the Shizzolator to have it instantly translated into the rizzle dizzle (real deal). Snoop himself has had enough. He recently told Ryan J. Downey of MTV News: ''The message is L.I.G.: let it go. O.K., America? Let it go. You can't say 'izzle' no more. Tizzle, fizzle, dizzle -- none of that. It's over with. . . . Let's find something new. Maybe pig Latin, anything.''

O.K., America? Etlay itay ogay!

Kathleen E. Miller, a former research associate for this column, works in the Washington bureau of The Times.