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THE BACKSIDE OF BEYOND, and other ways of describing nowhere

When you start wondering where a figure of speech came from, you sometimes find yourself on dark literary backroads, if not actually in BF Egypt.

It was during a search for the town of Waldo, New Mexico that my husband described our extremely rural surroundings as “BF Egypt.” And such is the nature of our car conversations on these occasions, I was shortly whipping out my iPhone in an effort to discover just why “B*** F*** Egypt” (to use the full (more or less) expression) should be a common idiom for the backside of beyond.

It was an entertaining search, during which we discovered that all kinds of cultures have an idiom that pretty much means, “Out in the sticks,” if not absolutely, “Farther away than nowhere.” The British do not use “BF Egypt,” which seemed odd in light of their expeditionary and exploratory history in the desert regions. Still, they do seem aware of their adventurous heritage: current British idiom is “in the bundu”—“bundu” being an African word (specific ethnicity unknown) meaning…well, BF Egypt.

Here (courtesy of Wikipedia and its many contributors) is a partial list of popular idioms meaning “a very remote (not to say culturally backward and/or with inhabitants given to deviant sexual practices) place”:

• Anytown, USA and Dullsville in the USA.

• Auchterturra in Scotland, and Glenboggin, which has its own official website.[30]

• Back o’ Bourke in Australia (unspecified remote place). Bourke, New South Wales was the terminus of the railway line from Sydney, thus the start of the real Outback.

• Bally-Go-Backwards in Ireland (unspecified remote small country town).

• Black Stump or also Albuquerque in Australia and New Zealand (“beyond the black stump” indicates an extremely remote location).

• Up the Boohai (approximately “boo-eye”) in New Zealand, occasionally given as, Up the Boohai hunting pukeko with a long handled shovel. The Boohai is a fictitious river. It is used to indicate that the answerer does not wish to respond to any question involving “where?”. Up the Boohai can also indicate that plans are apparently ruined or an item is extremely non-functional.

• The Boondocks (or the Boonies).

• BFE or Bumblefuck, Egypt (also Bumfuck, Egypt, Butt Fuck, Egypt, or Beyond Fucking Egypt) refers to an unspecified remote location or destination, assumed to be arduous to travel to, unpleasant to visit and/or far away from anything of interest to the speaker (e.g. “Man, you parked way the hell out in BFE”). In Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, this is often referred to as Japip or East Jabip/Jabib. In the Chicago metropolitan area, the term was coined to refer to the region in downstate Illinois known as “Little Egypt”, centered in Cairo, Illinois, for being the furthest from the urban center in both distance and way of life. Bumfuck is also military slang for a remote, hard to get to military base. Has been also rendered as Bumfuck, Iowa or Bumfuck, Wyoming or Bumfuck, Idaho. Bumblefuck, Missouri was popularized by the 1988 movie Rain Man.

• Buttcrack or Upper Buttcrack (usually a New England state).

• Crackerland and Jerkwater (from the 1982 film First Blood, small hometowns of typical US Army recruits).

• East Cupcake.

• East Jahunga.

• East Jesus.

• Four-Fifths of Fuck-All.

• Dog River, Armpit, or Moose Fuck in Canada.

• Hay and Hell and Booligal, an Australian colloquialism for anyplace hot and uncomfortable; made famous by Banjo Patterson’s humorous poem of that title. (Hay and Booligal are actual New South Wales communities in the Riverina.)

• Hickville is used to describe a small farming town. (Hick comes from hillbilly.)

• Loamshire for a rural county in England (and the Loamshires for a regiment based in that county).

• Outer Mongolia used to represent a far and distant land relatively unknown to the average person; also rendered as the imaginary country of Outer Congolia

• Peoria refers to provincial mainstream cities or towns in the US; typically used in expressions like “Will it play in Peoria?”

• Podunk in the USA.

• Sainte-Clotilde-de-Rubber-Boot in Quebec, Canada.

• The Sticks refers to a remote rural location (US + UK)

• Timbuktu is often used to refer to an unspecified but remote place.

• Tipperary can still be used to denote anywhere that is “a long way from home”.

• Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein used to refer to a typical South African small rural town.

• Ultima Thule can mean “beyond the borders of the known world” or a far-north island.

• Upper Rubber Boot in Ontario, Canada.

• Woop Woop, Upper Woop Woop, Oodnawoopwoop, or Wopwops in Australia and New Zealand (often “out Woop Woop” as in, “they live out Woop Woop somewhere”, and used when referring to people who live in a country area unfamiliar to the speaker).

• Waikikamukau (pronounced “Why kick a moo-cow”) in New Zealand.

Oh, Waldo, New Mexico? It’s way the heck out in BF Egypt. [g]*

*Actually, Waldo is even farther away than that. One of New Mexico’s small ghost-towns, the entire place was bought up by a salvager in the 1950’s and completely carted away. Nothin’ much left.

[This photo from www.ghosttowns.com, which has the complete story of Waldo.]

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112 Responses »

  1. Oh that was fun reading all those expresions.
    I heard one or two growing up in the county of St. Louis Missouri.
    I had not heard of BFE, I will have to share with some others.

    Thanks for the laughs today Diana !!!

  2. In Southwestern Ontario we say BFI for Butt Fuck Idaho.

  3. Love this post…my Baltimore friends (who are self-proclaimed “Baltimorons”) refer often to “Pennsyltucky” when describing locations beyond convenient travel time. I have to say that I kind of like it. Thank you for the laughs! :)

    • I currently reside in Henderson Nevada which is a suburb of Las Vegas. I have seen Henderson referred to as Hendertucky and found that hilarious.

      :)

      Deb

  4. I always liked to refer to Hell’s Half Acre whenever the purpose suited. And actually my friend and I came upon it once somewhere in Central NY. I wish I had a camera to take a picture of the sign. It was just one of those days where we, ironically, took a wrong turn and came upon it. I had used the expression before but this just made it even better that there was actually a place!

    • I’ve also used Hell’s Half Acre for most of my life. I grew up in Ontario, also lived in Saskatchewan for a couple of years, and now have lived near Vancouver, BC, for the past 40 years. We usually used HHA to refer to something being spread all over the place, like shopping for something and having to run all over hell’s half acre to find it, etc.

      BF Egypt is a new one to me, but many people I know from the prairies in Canada say BF, Sask (presumably because the whole province is practically “the boonies”). And on a side-note, when my husband travelled in Egypt, he came home saying it was the “asshole of the planet”. Haha – I don’t think he liked it there….

  5. Got a very good laugh out of this… growing up in New Jersey in the 50′s and 60′s my father used the jabib reference. If I recall it was always “from jabib and back!”

    My first husband always used the term “East Eshabeebee” when we touring northern California and the Pacific Northwest. He is a Bostonian born and bred and his father, when we moved to Santa Rosa California, referred to that fine metropolis as “Dogpatch.” Those that are familiar with Andy Capp know the town in question.

    Am wiping tears of joy from my eyes while I type…

    Deb

  6. Back forty is a common expression on the prairies of Wyoming as well as one of my favorites, the ass end of nowhere!

  7. Great list! Another one: here in Silicon Valley, I have heard “Outer Slobobia,” which is a riff on Scott Adams’ “Dilbert” comic strip. Sometimes “Outer Sloboobia” if one feels particularly disparaging.

  8. I have to laugh! I come from Philly and when I was growing up, we used ‘Out in East Jabip’. I didn’t realize it was a local saying. I never ever heard of an Egypt reference.

  9. we all ways said, behind God’s back

  10. In Québec, St-Clin-Clin-des-Meuh-Meuh.
    Never in my life heard of Sainte-Clotilde-of-Rubber-Boots.
    The wonders of internet searches…

  11. My dad always used to say “Out where Christ parked his bicycle”. Love this.

  12. In central Ontario, I hear (and use) Buttfuck Idaho, Buttfuck Egypt, out in the sticks, the boonies, up the Bunny Trail (a very real, very convoluted winding, serpentine, rutted, back country logging road) or Hell N Gone. As in “I’d come visit more but you live Hell N Gone and it’s too far.”

  13. How about “Tarnation,” as in “Where in Tarnation are we?!”

  14. My dad always used ‘out passed the arse-hole of the earth’ .
    As Canadian kids, we used ‘fuck-a-toboggan’ as one word,so the ‘geezers’ didn’t understand what we were saying.Ha.