Bubba maisa does not come from German at all, it comes from Italian and Yiddish. The origin of the term is the Bovo Buch, where Bovo is the main character's name and "buch" means "book" in Yiddish. The Yiddish version of the book was adapted from the Italian version. By the late 18th century buch was replaced with maisa, which means story, and eventually was corrupted into bubbe maisa. The term refers to Bovo, a man who was not anyone's grandmother.

"Maisa" itself means an action or a happening, which in Yiddish is used for story, as in something that happened. When people ask "L'maisa?" they are asking if it is practical, as in, something that they can or should do.