Dada was a literary and artistic movement born in Europe at a time when the horror of World War I was being played out in what amounted to citizens' front yards. Due to the war, a number of artists, writers and intellectuals, notably of French and German nationality, found themselves congregating in the refuge that neutral Zurich Switzerland offered. The movement was, among other things, a protest against the barbarism of the War and what Dadaists believed was an oppressive intellectual rigidity in both art and everyday society; its works were characterized by a deliberate irrationality and the rejection of the prevailing standards of art. It influenced later movements including Surrealism.
The origin of the name "Dada" is unclear; some believe that it is a nonsensical word. Others maintain that it originates from the Romanian artists Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco's frequent use of the words da, da, meaning yes, yes in the Romanian language with the English equivalent being "yeah, yeah" , as in a sarcastic tone. Still others believe that a group of artists assembled in Zürich in 1916, wanting a name for their new movement, chose it at random by stabbing a French-German dictionary with a paper knife, and picking the name that the point landed upon. Dada in French is a child's word for hobby-horse. In French the colloquialism "c'est mon dada", means it's my hobby.