A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 28, 2010
Moola or Moolah (money slang)

"Moola” (also “moolah” or “mulah") means “money.” Many derivations have been suggested from many languages, but all are lacking in historical citations.

A probable origin was printed in the Daily News (New York, NY), on February 21, 1936:

“Lou Frankel, who digs into slang and the reasons behind it, offers a few show business terms: (...) Mulah—money. Lou always thought it was Arabic or Syrian, but research turns up this: A colored vaudeville team used the word years ago. One of the partners played the role of a Chinese, and the other one, playing a colored man, owed him money. The “Chinese” asked for his mulah which was his idea of pidgin English.”

“Moola shmoola” (also “moolah shmoolah” or “moola schmoola” or “moolah schmoolah") was popularized in the 2000s by New York City-born Guardian Angels founder and radio talk show host Curtis Sliwa.


Wiktionary: Moola
Suggested origins, none of which are accepted by mainstream lexicographers, include:

. from Romani mol (“have value, be worth”)
. from Irish moll óir (“heap of gold”) However, this is unlikely because of the difference in pronunciation.
. from French moulin (“mill”)
. from Chinook Jargon moola (“mill”)
. from Sanskrit मूल (mūla, “capital, principal”)
. coined by Chuck Green, a friend of Damon Runyon

(Historical Dictionary of American Slang)
moola or moolah n. [orig. unkn.] money. Also mola.
1939 C.R. Cooper In Scarlet16: What about it, baby, is it my fault I forgot my wallet? I got plenty of mullah.
1939 D. Runyon, in Collier’s (June 17) 9: He is very desperate for a little moolah.
1940 O’Hara Pal Joey 97: I never saw the day wherein no matter how much moola I had I could not use some more.
1941 Brackett & Wilder (film): That’s what I need the moola for.
1941 Rossen Blues in Night (film):You got any moola on you?...You were just gonna divvy up the moola.
1942 Bowers & Spence 7 Days Leave (film): If we don’t take the moola back to the boys, we’ll be facing a firing squad.
1943 Darling Jitterbugs (film): Kale, mazuma, moola!

(Oxford English Dicionary)
moolah, n.
slang (orig. U.S.).
Forms: 19- mola, 19- moola, 19- moolah, 19- mullah. [Origin unknown. Compare MOO n.2
Probably unrelated to European Romani mol- to be worth.]
Money.
1939 C. R. COOPER Designs in Scarlet 16 What about it, baby, is it my fault I forgot my wallet? I got plenty of mullah.
1940 J. O’HARA Pal Joey 97, I never saw the day wherein no matter how much moola I had I could not use some more.
1951 People (Austral.) 1 Aug. 20/3 She left there, too. ‘Not enough moolah.’
1968 R. BUSBY & G. HOLTHAM Main Line Kill v. 44 Expensive though. You blokes must spend a lot of moola on that stuff.
1973 J. WAINWRIGHT High-class Kill 154 What did he do for a living?.. Where did the moolah come from?

Newspapers.com
21 February 1936, Daily News (New York, NY), “Mainly About Manhattan” by John Chapman, pg. 46, col. 1:
Lou Frankel, who digs into slang and the reasons behind it, offers a few show business terms:
(...)
Mulah—money. Lou always thought it was Arabic or Syrian, but research turns up this: A colored vaudeville team used the word years ago. One of the partners played the role of a Chinese, and the other one, playing a colored man, owed him money. The “Chinese” asked for his mulah which was his idea of pidgin English.

Google News Archive
19 December 1937, Wilmington (DE) Sunday Morning Star, “Best Bets Of The Week” by Mark Hellinger, pg. 38, col. 4”
Odds And Ends In The Entertainment World:  When you click in Hollywood, the moola really rolls in. Just about a year ago Deanna Durbin was earning $150 a week. Today, while making “Mad About Music,” she draws $2,500 weekly from the studio, earns a heavy sum from broadcasting and records, and is picking up in the neighborhood of $100.000 a year from fashion work. Nice work, if you can get it…

13 December 1940, Courier-Post (Camden, NJ), “‘Pal Joey’ Big Hit on Forrest Stage,” pg. 33, col. 4:
“Pal Joey” is based by John O’Hara on the series of letters which have appeared in the New Yorker. It tells the story of a cheap, conceited, ordinary night club punk who likes the girls too well and of his rise, through the aid of the moola (money to you) of a Chicago dame who backs him as a night club entrepreneur.

11 January 1941, Miami (FL) Daily News, “Play Reveals O’Hara Has Ear For Slang,” pg. 7A, col. 5:
“Scratch” or “moola”: money.

19 October 1941, Des Moines (IA) Sunday Register, “Do You Dig It?,” magazine sec., pg. 5, col. 3:
MOOLAH: Money.

Google Groups: alt.radio.talk
“MOOLAH SCHMOOLA"..."WINE, DINE, AND POCKET LINE”...
Carroll1429
10/26/01
“SING AND RING"..."HUSH HUSH MUSH MUSH"..."MOBSTERS CHOKING ON THEIR LOBSTER”...CURTIS SLIWA IS TRULY THE POET LAUREATE OF AMERICA, CHALLENGED ONLY BY “FROM THE OUT HOUSE TO THE WHITE HOUSE” JESSE THE EXTORTIONIST JERKSON.

Google Groups: alt.radio.talk
Does Kuby REALLY hate white people???
BertSchnik
12/3/02
(...)
When I first tuned in I thought both DID feel they way they spoke. Then I sawCurtis speak in person, and I was AMAZED at how articulate, educated, and well spoken he was. There was none of this “moola schmoola” or “ mobsters chocking on lobsters” stuff. Thats when I understood that both are basically actors playing a part.

Urban Dictionary
moola
money, expensive shit
“sorry man, cant go to movies tonight, lack of moola”
by trish April 21, 2003

2 May 2006, Scarborough Country (MSNBC television show):
(Curtis—ed.) SLIWA: Oh, there`s no question. It`s sort of like the hip-hop rap world, keeping it real. The more times you`re shot, the more crimes you commit, the more stripes you get, the more street cred you get.

Look at A.J., the son of Tony Soprano. Look, he got in trouble, and he`s never been making more moolah-shmoolah and getting more credits on “The Sopranos.”

Google Groups: rec.music.folk
Three Foot Seam (was: Bonnie Suzie Cleland)
Stephen & Marilyn Suffet
1/11/07
(...)
A little moolah shmoolah also helped. grin

Twitter
Livy
@xLivxo427
Replying to @KaylaRussell92
@KaylaRussell92 well it depends if my family would elt me. lol. i need some of their moola shmoola to go there. im crossing my fingers tho!
1:22 PM · Oct 26, 2010·Twitter Web Client

Twitter
Curtis Sliwa
@CurtisSliwa
Remember Twits the @am970theapple App isn’t gonna set you back any moolah shmoolah, duckets, cheddar, scarole, shekels or dinars it’s FREE!
5:26 PM · Apr 12, 2011·Twitter for iPhone

Twitter
Ann Poulose
@annp210
Buy my shoes too...I need moola shmoola
11:28 AM · Nov 25, 2011·Twitter for iPhone

New York (NY) Post
1 May 2017, New York (NY) Post, “Media City: Well, that’s rich!,” pg. 26:
The release of a one-page outline of President Trump’s tax plan gave the country a look at how the wealthy will be treated.

Let’s just say - not harshly.

So what will they do with all that extra moola-shmoola? Buy more toys, of course.

Urban Dictionary
moolah
Other meaning of money.
“Stop trynn finesse me outmy moolah” - Lil Uzi Vert
via giphy
#money rap lil uzi vert
by sadmalik June 12, 2017

Twitter
Jose Martinez
@JMartinezNYC
That’s a lotta 💰 scarole 💰 and 💰 moolah shmoolah 💰 on consultants!
Quote Tweet
Dan Rivoli
@danrivoli
· May 30
City EDC spent $7.5 million of its money (like, from fees) on consultants for BQX
Show this thread
1:24 PM · May 30, 2019·Twitter for iPhone

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • Wednesday, July 28, 2010 • Permalink