Fuhhgeddaboutit! A phrase so New York that my two-and-a-half year old says it because it’s in her book Brooklyn Baby, but most people in the rest of the country have no idea what it means. Fuhhgeddaboutit, which is the phonetic pronunciation of “Forget about it” in a “New Yawk” accent was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016 but has long been a colloquial term here in New York City.
A week ago, during the coronavirus pandemic, Fuhhgeddaboutit! (or alternate spelling of Fuhhgeddaboudit!) started appearing on the digital highway signs within the five boroughs. “Outside with No Mask? Fuhhgeddaboutit!” they read, seen along Interstate 678 which traverses Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. I-678 includes the Whitestone Expressway, the Van Wyck Expressway, and the Hutchinson River Parkway.
The portions of I-678 within New York State are under the management of the New York State Department of Transportation, so the messaging is controlled at the state level. The signs are a nice touch, a PSA with humor and a local reference, during a challenging time. Special thanks to Alyssa Loorya of Chrysalis Archaeology for capturing these images for us. We also saw the same messaging on the West Side Highway. You will find other digital signs on highways outside New York City that say “We are NY Strong” followed by recommendations to cover face while outside and to wash hands with soap.
In 2004, then-Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz installed signs along highways and bridges to mark drivers entering or leaving the borough of Brooklyn. The signs leaving Brooklyn contained classic Brooklyn phrases, like “Fuhgeddaboudit!” and “Oy Vey,” an exclamation of dismay in Yiddish. When entering Brooklyn you might find “Brooklyn in the house! “Where New York City begins”, “Name It, We Got It” and “How Sweet It Is.”