“Kemo Sabe”, meaning an all knowing one, is mispronounced by Native American of the Spanish phrase, Quien lo Sabe, meaning one who knows.”

The phrase ‘Kemo Sabe’, originally spelt ‘Kemo Sabay’ is a phrase that is given to a know it all. It was used by native Americans as one of the many friendly expressions but in the real sense, it was and still is a corrupted version of the Spanish phrase ‘Quien lo Sabe’. The Spanish one stands is used to mean one who knows and is an expression when used like that. When a tilde is added to it-Quién sabe?-it then becomes a question meaning ‘who knows?

Kemo Sabe

Many, especially those over thirty, might recall The Lone Ranger where the faithful Indian companion (Tonto) used to refer to his master as ‘Kemosabe’. The early radio shows also saw The Lone Ranger refer to Tonto by the same tag. The word could also be used to mean a faithful friend or trusty scout and its usage became so common that in the year 2002, it was gained entry into Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary under the spelling ‘kemosabe’.

The phrase continues to remain in use heavily today with the month of April 2011 seeing about 180,000 registered hits on Google search (with spelling kemosabe/kemo sabe) and the other spelling that was used by Fran Striker-writer of The Lone Ranger original radio program-ke-mo sah-bee receiving 15,800 hits.


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