ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Tomato tomato? Potato potato? Let’s (not) Call the Whole Thing Off!

Updated on April 15, 2012

Shall We Dance Movie Poster

Movie Poster from Shall We Dance
Movie Poster from Shall We Dance

You say tomato...I say tomahto

There are so many expressions we take for granted in our native tongues that often leave those from other cultures scratching their heads. Words and expressions get picked up from famous speeches, newspaper headlines, music and movies becoming part of our everyday lexicon. To master a language’s slang and everyday expressions is to understand its people. It wasn’t until I used the term “tomato, tomato” within an email to a French speaking friend that I realized an expression that has always been a part of my culture meant nothing to her and in fact left her confused. It doesn’t help that when the expression is printed, it loses the differing pronunciation of “tom-eh-toe, tom-ah-toe.” In essence it translates to: ‘You say/believe this. I say/believe that. We have differing opinions and can still get along!” It’s fascinating that a lyrical verse created 75 years ago is still generating conversation today.

Shall We Dance Products

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

The song Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off, from which the famous quote originates, was created by the famous brother duo of composer George and lyrical creator Ira Gershwin for the 1937 movie Shall We Dance. It was introduced by famous movie dance duo Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers during a historic roller skating dance duet. The movie’s plot line revolves around Astaire, ballet star Pete “Petrov” Peters, and Rogers, as musical star Linda Keene, faking a marriage for publicity purposes then falling in love. Although the movie’s quirky song still remains popular all these years later, it was the song They Can’t Take That Away From Me from the same movie, also by the Gershwins, which was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Music, Original Song.

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off Video

Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off - Lyrics

Fred Astaire:

Things have come to a pretty pass
Our romance is growing flat
For you like this and the other
While I go for this and that
Goodness knows what the end will be
Oh! I don't know where I'm at
It’s plain to see we two will never make one
Something must be done

You say either and I say eyether,
You say neither and I say nyther
Either, eyether, neither, nyther
Let's call the whole thing off

You like potato and I like potahto
You like tomato and I like tomahto
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto
Oh! Let's call the whole thing off
But oh, if we call the whole thing off
Then we must part
And oh! If we ever part, then that might break my heart

So if you like pyjamas and I like pyjahmas,
I'll wear pyjamas and give up pyjahmas
For we know we need each other so we
Better call the calling off off
Oh! Let's call the whole thing off

Ginger Rogers:

You say laughter and I say larfter
You say after and I say arfter
Laughter, larfter, after, arfter
Let's call the whole thing off

You like Havana and I like Havahna
You eat banana and I eat banahnah
Havana, Havahna, banana, banahnah
Let’s call the whole thing off

But oh! If we call the whole thing off
Then we must part
And oh! If we ever part, then that might break my heart

So if you like oysters and I like ersters
I'll take oysters and give up ersters
For we know we need each other so we
Better call the calling off off
Let's call the whole thing off

Other Artists Sing Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

Other Recordings of the Song

Many famous versions of the song have been created over the years, several with a change of lyrics but all in keeping with the quirky, jovial, punchy tone. One of the most famous alternate recordings is that of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Other famous versions have been sung by Rosemary Clooney with several duet partners, Billie Holiday and Harry Connick Jr. The song has been used in television and movies most notably in When Harry Met Sally and The Simpsons.

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong Sing Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

Special Recognition for the Song

On June 22, 2004, in a CBS television special hosted by John Travolta, The American Film Institute unveiled a list of the top 100 songs in American cinema. Let's Call the Whole Thing Off garnered 34th place in a list spanning entries from 1932-2002.

So now 75 years later, with many renditions of the song recorded and several accolades, it's totally up to you whether you say tomato or tomato, potato or potato!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)