07 July 2009

"Props to..." Otis Redding

I've seen the word "props" fairly often, especially on Reddit threads, in place of the old "kudos." The intent and meaning have always been apparent, but the etymology baffled me. Today I looked it up.

According to the Urban Dictionary (and others), "props" is short for "propers," which in turn is an abbreviated form of "proper recognition" or "proper respect."

The earliest citation given is to the lyrics of Aretha Franklin's song "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" -

I'm about to give you all my money
And all I'm asking in return honey
Is to give me my propers when you get home...

Interestingly, while searching this I also found the lyrics transcribed as follows -

I'm about to give you all of my money
And all I'm askin' in return, honey
Is to give me my profits when you get home...

"Respect" was written and originally recorded by Otis Redding well before Aretha Franklin made it famous. When I repeated the search, adding "Redding," I found the following lyrics:

I'm out to give you all my money
But all I'm askin' in return honey
Is to give me my proper respect
When you get home

So I have no doubt the original intent was "proper respect," which when covered by others in later years became "propers," and was misheard by some transcribers as "profits."

Which would make "profits" a... Mondegreen!


  1. That's crazy. I was wondering about 'props' too, so I looked it up like you...eventually googled 'propers otis' and your post popped up

  2. That's how a lot of people have found their way to TYWKIWDBI; about 20% of the traffic to the blog originates from Google searches.

    Hope you find other stuff of interest.


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