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. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from November 30, 2019
Capeesh (Italian for “understand”)

“Capisce” (also spelled “capeesh” or “kapeesh”) is Italian for “understand.” The slang spellings and pronunciation have long been a part of New York City’s Italian-American communities, and the term is now in the general vernacular.
“Capisce” was printed in the United States Service Magazine in July 1864.
“No capeesh” was printed in the New Castle (PA) Daily Herald on December 24, 1908. “May be pretty soon I capeesh da army” was printed in the Brattleboro (VT) Daily Reformer on August 10, 1934.
“Kapeesh” was printed in the Standard Union (Brooklyn, NY) on April 8, 1928, and in the Brooklyn (NY) Times Union on August 20, 1932.
The song “No Comprenez, No Capish, No Versteh?,” with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin, was included in the 1931 musical Of Thee I Sing.
Wiktionary: capisce
Borrowed (with a change of spelling reflecting the slang pronunciation) from Italian capisci, the second-person singular present indicative form of capire (“to understand”), through Vulgar Latin *capīre from Latin capere (“to grasp, seize”), from Proto-Italic *kapiō, from Proto-Indo-European *kh₂pyéti, from the root *keh₂p- (“to grab, to seize”).

1. (slang) “Get it?”; “understood?”.
Usage notes
. Often used in a threatening manner, in imitation of the way the Italian Mafia is often portrayed in popular culture and entertainment media.
. Without a question mark at the end, it is sometimes used to mean, “I understand”, as an American colloquialism. In Italian, that would actually mean “he/she/it understands” or a formal “you understand”. To mean “I understand”, one would actually say capisco.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
capisce, v.
Etymology: < Italian capisce, 3rd person singular present indicative of capire to understand (a1294) < classical Latin

capere to understand, to take (see capture n.).
slang (chiefly U.S.).
intransitive. To understand. Chiefly used in interrogative: ‘Do you understand?’ Cf. savvy v.
1904   F. Rolfe Hadrian VII iii. 88   Holiness, Pope Leo wished to have had it opened on the day of His Own election; but it was impossible. Impossible! Capisce?
1933   I. Gershwin (title of song)  No comprenez, no capish, no versteh!
a1946   in Best One-act Plays 1945 196   Capish?
22 November 1864, Brooklyn (NY) Daily Times, “Yusef El Caslan, An Egyptian Tale,” pg. 4, col. 3:
“I guy-ee two-oe piastres (holding up two fingers) oranges. Capisce?”
(Originally printed in the United States Service Magazine in July 1864.—ed.)
29 April 1903, Wichita (KS) Daily Eagle, “Tourists Pests to All Europe,” pg. 9, col. 4:
“But Signora,” exclaimed the furious man I put, “in contaxenzione,” “the beast broke my lantern—broke my lantern. Signora! Capisce!!”
24 December 1908, New Castle (PA) Daily Herald, “West Pittsburg,” pg. 6, col. 6:
Blank expressions, raised shoulders, and non-committal replies of “no capeesh” greet him at each house.
8 April 1928, Standard Union (Brooklyn, NY), “As You Like It” by Murray Robinson, pg. 16, col. 1:
Leo looked appealingly to Wheat, but the Robin captain registered no kapeesh.
29 June 1932, Brooklyn (NY) Times Union, “As You Like It” by Murray Robinson, pg. 1A:
There are two sides to every story, of course, but you shouldn’t try to make them both yours. Kapeesh?
20 August 1932, Brooklyn (NY) Times Union, “As You Like It” by Murray Robinson, pg. 1A, col. 1:
Risko, on the other hand, would probably give Maz a tough evening even now, and a return match between them wouldn’t draw pretzels. Kapeesh?
10 August 1934, Brattleboro (VT) Daily Reformer, “Mr. Revelli Wakes Up Everybody,” pg. 1, col. 7:
May be pretty soon I capeesh da army.
(Letter from Tomasso Garibaldi.—ed.)
9 June 1935, The Sunday Star (Washington, DC), “Wrestlers Discover Hollywood” by John Lardner, pg. F-4, col. 4:
“Bull,” said the Kid in the broken English he thought it best to employ in addressing foreigners. “You lika da job, hey? You ants woik in da movin’ pitch? Capeesh?”
OCLC WorldCat record
Yo Capeesh!!!! A Guide to Understanding Italian Americans.
Author: James G Caridi
Publisher: Lincoln : iUniverse.com,US, Ingram Book Company [distributor],. Lightning Source UK Ltd [distributor],. Ingram Book Company [distributor],. Ingram Book Company [distributor],. Ingram Book Company [distributor],. New Page Ltd [distributor],. Ingram Book Company [distributor],. Baker & Taylor [distributor],. 2001
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : Fiction : English
Urban Dictionary
Meaning of “Understand?”
Also spelt kapeesh, capeesh. An anglicization of the Italian capisci orig. U.S. - Used commonly amongst American-Italian gangsters and mobsters alike.
Kick the ball into the net, not over the net! Kapeesh?!
by Bruce Lee March 28, 2003
Urban Dictionary
Italiano for “get it?”, or “understand?”, or “do I make myself clear?”. Used commonly by mafioso people.
“This is your first and final warning. Don’tchu ever, and I mean ever, do that again. Capisce?”
“Everything but capisce.”

by Dave March 28, 2004
Urban Dictionary
Capisce (pronounced cah-PEESH) is an Italian word that is used in American slang to say “got it” or “understand.” The correct word in Italian would be capisci (pronounced cah-PEE-shee) to address the second person informally, a.k.a. you. Capisce, in Italian, is used only to address the second person formally (like when speaking to an elder or someone you don’t know) or to express that a third person (he, she, it) understands. The correct Italian pronunciation of capisce is cah-PEE-shay.
by L_B April 30, 2007
Let ‘Em Eat Cake: No Comprenez, No Capish, No Versteh? (Kruger, Wintergreen, Chorus)
Apr 14, 2017
Michael Tilson Thomas - Topic
Provided to YouTube by Sony Music Entertainment
Let ‘Em Eat Cake: No Comprenez, No Capish, No Versteh? (Kruger, Wintergreen, Chorus) · Michael Tilson Thomas / 麥可提森湯姆斯 · David Garrison · Larry Kert · New York Choral Artists · George Gershwin / George Gershwin / ジョージガーシュイン / 蓋希文
(From the 1931 musical Of Thee I Sing, with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin.—ed.)

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityEducation/Schools • Saturday, November 30, 2019 • Permalink

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