I admit it, I have a secret love of early 1990s R&B. I’m talking Mark Morrison, Montell Jordan – even Blackstreet gets a spin on my road-trip mixtapes. That’s why I found myself pondering recently: What the hell does No Diggity mean? Come down the rabbit hole with me and we’ll find out together.
To understand no diggity, we must first understand diggity. The first recorded use of diggity was in 1905, and it was in the phrase “hot diggity dog,” an exclamation of something outstandingly or surprisingly good, the diggity serving a purely alliterative purpose. The exclamation “hot dog!” meaning great has been with us a lot longer. Linguists haven’t been able to make an etymological link between hot dogs and goodness but I suspect it’s just that hot dogs, especially after a few beers, are surprisingly tasty.
Incidentally, the hot dog itself has an interesting origin story. Its name is thought to be in reference to the idea – not completely unfounded – that butchers added dog and horse meat to early frankfurter sausages. Are you still hungry?
The other common use of diggity is in the phrase diggity-bomb, in which the former just reinforces the latter – in the same way you might say “the bomb” or “totally bomb.”
So hot diggity dog and diggity-bomb are exclamations of something really good. You’d assume, then, that “no diggity” means something that’s not good, right? Well, you’d be wrong – because English.
You see, diggity is a word which doesn’t carry meaning of its own – it’s an alliterative flourish. So when Blackstreet says of their paramour, “I like the way you work it / No diggity / I’d like to bag it up,” it means “no flourish needed” or put plainly, “no doubt.”
Purely alliterative meaningless words are pretty rare in English. I’m glad Blackstreet were able to teach me this much. Now, back to the mixtape…