Wednesday Nintendo said that it had filed a request with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the long-standing, pop-culture phrase "It's on like Donkey Kong." The news arrives just ahead of the long-awaited launch of Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii console, one of many franchise “reboots” slated for the Nintendo latest console in the next few months.
"For those unfamiliar with the term, "It's on like Donkey Kong" is an old, popular Nintendo phrase that has a number of possible interpretations depending on how it's used," Nintendo explains. "In addition to Nintendo's use, it has been used in popular music, television and film over the years, pointing to Donkey Kong's status as an enduring pop-culture icon and video game superstar."
GameSpot dug up a few examples of the phrase in use, pointing to Steve Stifler in the movie American Wedding and an Oreo Double-Stuff commercial featuring the Williams sisters and Manning brothers. Rapper Ice Cube was also noted to popularizing the phrase by using it in his 1992 track "Now I Gotta Wet'cha" off The Predator album.
But there's a question of whether the phrase actually belongs to Nintendo. The Urban Dictionary actually does note Ice Cube's use of the phrase in the track, but states that it's unknown whether he was the person who originally coined the phrase.
"Many people incorrectly assume the phrase's origins are from various movies in which it is used but term was popularized by rapper Ice Cube when he used the phrase in the song 'Now I gotta Wet'cha' off his Predator album in 1992," the entry reads. "It is unknown at this time whether Ice Cube was the person that originally coined the phrase."
So what does "It's on like Donkey Kong" mean? The Urban Dictionary defines it as "a phrase to denote that it's time to throw down or compete at a high level; something is about to go down."