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a banana hammock
slang A very skimpy male bikini. I can't believe Albert insists on wearing a banana hammock to the beach—how embarrassing!
a banana skin
An action that results in an unforeseen and embarrassing mistake or problem. When Joe applied the latest software update, he had no idea what a banana skin it would be until after his company's entire network crashed.
derogatory slang An ethnic slur for an American of Southeast Asian parentage or ancestry who adopts the speech, clothing, behavior, beliefs, and values typical of Caucasian Americans. The term refers to the idea that such a person is "yellow" (a common slur for the appearance of Southeast Asians) on the outside but "white" (Caucasian) on the inside. Primarily heard in US. You've turned into such a banana since you moved to Silicon Valley, David. Have you completely forgotten what it means to be Vietnamese? I was born in the US, yet I get called a "banana" for embracing the culture of the only country I know—it's so frustrating.
Superfluous, disingenuous, or nonsensical talk, especially that which is meant to flatter someone or exaggerate something. Look, I know I won't get past the first round of this tournament, so you can stop feeding me banana oil.
A small country, often led by a corrupt government, whose economy depends upon either one internally-produced commodity or the revenue generated by foreign companies or investors. The dictator's insistence that the tiny island nation double down on its dominate export has made it even more of a banana republic.
A stupid person. Did you see the guy who's wearing two different shoes? What a banana-head.
make like a banana and split
humorous slang To depart or leave, especially at once or in a hurry. (A pun on "to split," a slang term meaning to leave or depart, and a "banana split," an ice-cream-based dessert featuring a banana halved lengthwise.) This carnival turned out to be really boring. Come on, let's make like a banana and split! A: "Where are Jeff and Sally?" B: "They needed to get home to feed the baby, so they made like a banana and split."
A problem, project, or task that requires little to no effort, expertise, or intelligence to solve or complete. Supposedly from the notion that a trained monkey could do what is required. A: "We have to add in some code so that users are able to remain logged into the website, even if they visit other pages." B: "No worries, that's a one-banana problem."
See also: problem
1. A performer who acts as a support to a lead comedian (the so-called "top banana"), as during a burlesque or vaudeville routine. I generally don't mind playing second banana when I'm with such a legendary comedian, but it would be nice to be the one getting all the laughs once in a while.
2. By extension, someone who occupies a secondary, lesser, or subservient role or position. I've been second banana in this company for too long now. I'm going to start up my own business, and then I'll be the one in charge!
slip on a banana skin
To make a silly, embarrassing, or avoidable mistake. They were completely dominating the game until the quarterback slipped on a banana peel and threw an interception, which allowed the momentum to shift in the opposing team's favor.
The person with the most authority, power, or influence in a group or organization. Primarily heard in US. When I was top banana of the business, I used to charge the most outrageous things to the company credit card. You'll only get a truthful answer if you manage to talk to one of the top bananas.
Nonsense, exaggerated flattery, as in I should be on television? Cut out the banana oil! The precise analogy in this idiom is not clear, unless it is to the fact that banana oil, a paint solvent and artificial flavoring agent, has no relation to the fruit other than that it smells like it. Possibly it is a variation on snake oil, a term for quack medicine that was extended to mean nonsense. [1920s]
see under top banana.
Also, top dog. The principal person in a group, organization, or undertaking, as in His plan was to be top banana within ten years, or Now that she's top dog you can't get hold of her at all. The first term comes from show business, where from the early 1900s it has signified the leading comedian (possibly the original allusion was to Frank Lebowitz, a burlesque comedian who used bananas in his act). It also gave rise to second banana, for a supporting actor, usually a straight man. Both were transferred to more general use in the second half of the 1900s, as in executive Peter Barton's statement, "There is a certain pain to being a second banana, but you have to have an ability to sublimate your ego," quoted in The New York Times, May 15, 1996. The variant, top dog, originated in sports in the late 1800s and signified the odds-on favorite or winner in a contest; it alludes to the dog who wins (comes out on top) in a dogfight.
banana oilAMERICAN, INFORMAL
If you call what someone says banana oil, you mean that it is only said to gain an advantage and is not sincere. All the things he said about her qualities of leadership were just banana oil.
second bananamainly AMERICAN, INFORMAL
1. If you call something or someone second banana you mean they are the next most important or popular person or thing after the most important or popular person or thing. While hockey is king in Canada, the sport has to play second banana south of the border to Major League Baseball.
2. A second banana is a performer who performs with someone else who has a bigger part in the performance. Carney returned to radio as second banana on comedy shows. Compare with play second fiddle.
slip on a banana skinor
slip on a banana peelBRITISH, INFORMAL
COMMON If an important or famous person slips on a banana skin or slips on a banana peel, they say or do something that makes them look stupid and causes them problems. Most of the nation would enjoy seeing mighty Manchester United slip on a banana skin in front of millions. You can be walking across Westminster Bridge full of noble thoughts at one moment and slipping on a banana peel the next. Note: You can also call something that causes someone to look stupid or have problems a banana skin or a banana peel. Insiders watched in horrified fascination as the President lurched from one banana peel to another. Note: Comedies and cartoons traditionally show a character slipping on a banana skin, falling over, and looking foolish.
banana oilnonsensical talk; bullshit. US and Australian informal
banana republica small tropical state, especially one in central America, whose economy is regarded as wholly dependent on its fruit-exporting trade. derogatory
second bananathe second most important person in an organization or activity. informal, chiefly North American
top bananathe most important person in an organization or activity. informal, chiefly North American
The two expressions above originated in US theatrical slang. The top banana was originally the comedian who topped the bill in a show, while the second banana was the supporting comedian.
slip on a banana skinmake a silly and embarrassing mistake.
slip on a baˈnana skin(informal) (usually of a public figure) make a stupid mistake: The new minister slipped on a banana skin before he had been in the job a week.
n. an American of East Asian descent who acts too much like a Caucasian. (see also apple. Rude and derogatory.) Stop acting like such a banana!
n. a bikini for a male. (see also grape smugglers.) He was wearing a little yellow banana hammock that drew a lot of stares.
n. nonsense. I refuse to listen to any more of your childish banana oil.
n. a stupid person. (Usually objectionable.) Ask that banana-head why she is wearing a coat like that in July.
1. n. the lead comedian in a burlesque or vaudeville act. The top banana didn’t show up for the gig.
The main leader of an organization or undertaking, the chief. Top banana comes from vaudeville, where the term denoted the starring comedian. Possibly it originally alluded to an individual who used bananas in his or her act. The 1954 film Top Banana, starring Phil Silvers, features a television comic and uses a great many vaudeville jokes. (A related term is second banana, for a supporting comedian, usually the straight man. However, it has not been as widely extended to other venues and cannot be considered a cliché.) Top dog came from sports in the late 1800s and alluded to the dog who wins in a dogfight (emerges on top); it was quickly extended to the winner or favorite in other competitions, and eventually simply to the principal leader.
insincere or ridiculous talk. Like “horse feathers,” there's no such substance as banana oil. Also like “horse feathers,” the phrase Described something utterly preposterous. It has been attributed to Milt Gross, a cartoonist who first used the expression in his comic strips during the 1920s.
Headliner comedian in a vaudeville show. The phrase is said to have originated with a vaudevillian named Harry Steppe in 1927 from a skit in which three comics tried to figure out how to share two bananas. Steppe also claimed to have first used “second banana” to refer to the cast's number two comic. Comedian Phil Silvers popularized the phrase “Top Banana” when he used it as the title of his Broadway musical and movie.