Where does easy peasy lemon squeezy come from?
Easy peasy lemon squeezy is an elaboration on easy-peasy, likewise meaning “extremely easy or simple.” One of the earliest documented instances of easy-peasy appears in the 1940 American film The Long Voyage Home, used to advise a character to handle a suspicious box with care. The film takes place on a British steamship, a setting that accords with the Oxford English Dictionary’s estimation that easy-peasy originates as a British colloquialism or children’s slang.
The peasy in easy-peasy is an instance of rhyming reduplication, a term best illustrated with some of English’s many other examples: freaky-deaky, razzle-dazzle, super-duper, teenie-weenie, to name a mere few.
As for lemon squeezy? The origin of this vivid part of the expression is the subject of much speculation. It’s popularly said that easy peasy lemon squeezy comes from a 1950–60s commercial slogan for a British dish soap called Sqezy, which was lemon-scented and packaged in a squeeze bottle. But while there was a product called Sqezy (pronounced like squeezy), there is currently no firm evidence the brand ever used easy peasy lemon squeezy as a catchphrase. Also alluding to the detergent, another theory anecdotally claims the expression goes back to a racially charged British schoolyard chant, “Easy, peasy, Japanesey. Wash your bum in lemon Sqezy.”
Easy peasy Japanesey points to other elaborations on easy-peasy such as easy peasy pumpkin peasy and easy, peasy weasy, the latter used a 1973 British short story, nearly 20 years before the OED cites easy peasy lemon squeezy, in a 1990 article in the Independent.
While its exact origins are unknown, easy peasy lemon squeezy has been featured prominently in some popular media, including the 2002 British-parodying comedy, Austin Powers in Goldmember. And in the hit television series The Walking Dead, the brutal villain Negan notably utters the expression after offing a zombie—making the sweet and innocent expression sound very sinister.
Who uses easy peasy lemon squeezy?
Easy peasy lemon squeezy is used colloquially in speech, books, articles, and various forms of digital communication.
The phrase can be used as an adjective (“That homework assignment was easy peasy lemon squeezy.”), adverb (“I did the homework assignment easy peasy lemon squeezy.”), and interjection (“That homework assignment? Easy peasy lemon squeezy!”). It’s often used to write catchy or clever headlines, book titles, and product names. Recipes and fashion advice also make frequent use of the phrase.
While a harmless way to add some color and personality in an expression of ease and simplicity, easy peasy lemon squeezy can irk some people as cutesy and childish—the same attributes, however, can also be leveraged for snarky effect.
“Yo @PressSec: Just say 'We unreservedly condemn all hate crimes & want to work together to find ways to stop them.' Easy peasy lemon squeezy”
Dana Stevens @thehighsign Twitter (March 27, 2017)
“Anyway, going on holiday with a baby is easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy compared to going on holiday with a toddler, so make the most of it.”
Francesca Beauman, How to Crack an Egg with One Hand: A Pocketbook for the New Mother (2013)
“Sensors at the door, powered by Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology, detect your departure, charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!”
Jayesh Shinde, “Amazon Go Hints At The Future Of Retail Stores, Bids Goodbye To Checkout Queues,” Times of India (December 6, 2016)