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What is the Origin of Sheldon Cooper's "Bazinga?"
Sheldon began using the term "bazinga" as a follow-up to jokes, pranks, and chuckle-filled "gotcha" situations just before the third season started.
Ever since, the curious interjection has taken its place among pranksters and Sheldon Cooper wordsmiths both online and off, sometimes merely for the fun of saying, "Bazinga!" (Go ahead, try it. We'll wait.)
More recently, interest in discovering the source for Sheldon's prankish term has started to swell and a variety of theories have bubbled up alongside. The question remains--what is the origin of Sheldon's "bazinga!"?
The Birth of Bazinga!
We've checked and re-checked and, so far as we can tell, "bazinga" was first used by Sheldon during "The Big Bang Theory's" season two episode, "The Monopolar Expedition." In fact, he uses it not just once but three times. Here is a quick review.
- Making its grand appearance, Sheldon first comments on Leonard's white board by suggesting that something is wrong with his calculations. His infamous retort soon follows:
Sheldon: "You actually had it right in the first place. Once again, you've fallen for one of my classic pranks. Bazinga!"
- Later, Leonard and Sheldon discuss Leonard's not-yet-blossomed relationship with Penny. The conversation goes:
Sheldon: "Leonard, you may be right. It appears Penny secretly wants you in her life in a very intimate and carnal fashion."
Leonard: "You really think so?"
Sheldon: "Of course not. Even in my sleep-deprived state I've managed to pull off one of my classic pranks. Bazinga!"
- Finally, as Howard, Leonard, Rajesh, and Sheldon settle into their temporary arctic home, Sheldon falls into yet another sly mood by using the food supply to prank Leonard:
Sheldon: "Flash-frozen brown rice, not white?"
Leonard: (discovering no brown rice) "Uh, oh. Sorry."
Sheldon: "Not to worry, I hid it. Bazinga! ... "
Clearly, Sheldon uses the term as a stinging barb meant to impress his cleverness upon victims. Ridicule is the name of the game, in other words.
Sheldon's Sense of Humor
Although Sheldon implies that his "bazinga" moments are already familiar to Leonard, we have so far been unable to locate an earlier instance of him using the term within view of the camera.
That isn't to say Sheldon's sense of humor hadn't grown before that point. Almost absent of an understanding regarding sarcasm and nearly devoid of joke-making during the first season, Sheldon sprouts a funny bone (at least for himself) immediately as the second season begins.
For example, during the first episode, "The Bad Fish Paradigm," Sheldon exhibits one of his earliest attempts at overt humor. In this case, his joke utterly fails to penetrate Penny's laugh-center, but clearly tickles his own:
Sheldon: "Secret keeping is a complicated behavior. One has to be concerned not only about what one says, but about facial expressions, autonomic reflexes. When I try to deceive? I myself have more nervous tics than a Lyme disease research facility.
(Penny looks at Sheldon for several awkward moments.)
Sheldon: "It's a joke. It relies on the homonymic relationship between 'tick,' the blood-sucking arachnid, and 'tic,' the involuntary muscular contraction."
Yes, the joke is followed by his adorably vexing, hiccup-like laugh.
While a history of Sheldon's comedic side and actual use of "bazinga" is all, well, and good, how might it help us to understand the origin of the term? Did he invent it? Perhaps he picked it up after a night of Klingon boggle?
One theory that holds the attention of some word-searching geeks is that "bazinga" is a direct or derived Klingon term.
So far as we can tell, the word has no relation or origin in the guttural tongue of Star Trek's Klingon. We're no experts in the language and we can't say definitively that the word doesn't exist within Klingon speech, but nothing we've seen to date lends any credence to the idea.
While we'd love nothing more than to see Worf swat some random Romulan on the head, followed by a snarky "Bazinga!," it has never happened so far.
In other words, don't run out and buy those Klingon "Bazinga" T-shirts just yet.
Even still, if someone has something substantial revealing "bazinga" as a Klingon-based word, we would really like to see your evidence!
Variant of "Zing"
Another theory. and also the simplest, regards the word origin of "bazinga" as merely a variant of "zing."
To "zing" means, informally, to criticize or ridicule someone. On occasion, this informal mode is also used as a simple interjection, such as "Zing!" or "Zinged!"
More formally, the word is used to suggest energy, zest, or verve. Examples include "adds zing to your dinner chicken," or "the color red gives zing to any website!"
Most convincing to us, however, comes by way of the Urban Dictionary. It lists "bazing" as "a much more updated and cooler way to say zing." This definition predates that of "The Big Bang Theory" and Sheldon's personal use of the term (Nov. 2004). It is also so similar as to virtually assure some fidelity with Sheldon Cooper's version.
It should be said that we don't think the term is either Klingon nor something wholly manufactured by Sheldon.
With that in mind, we feel fairly confident in saying that Sheldon's "bazinga" is a result of his looking for methods of socially integrating a bit. Perhaps he realized his social distance during the first season and began to research the topic--akin to his attempt at befriending Barry Kripke by researching "how to make friends" during the third season.
Then again, maybe Sheldon was only deepening his methods of self-entertainment.
What is certain is that Sheldon's sense of humor and his ability to interact with others has grown since we met him in the first season. "Bazinga" is merely one endearing evidence of his success with all of us, his fans.
UPDATE: You also may like to know, the Urban Dictionary does have an actual "Bazinga" entry specifically referencing Sheldon Cooper. It found its way there in May, 2009. If you're willing to take the time, you'll even find banter about the Urban Dictionary definition occurring between Sheldon Cooper and various fans on Twitter in an effort to get it listed.
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