SCHULTZ at COMPUSERVE.COM
Wed Oct 16 05:37:32 UTC 2002
Mark Mandel asks,
>> What is "totter", a noun referring to a person? It is not in MW 3rd
>> Intl, OED New Edn., or AHD4.
It is, however, in M-W *Second* Int'l. Two definitions:
(1) "One who tots or adds up, as an account."
(2) "One who reclaims odds and ends from refuse cans, dumps, etc., in order
to sell them."
I expect it's the latter who's referred to in your quote from the Lindsey
Davis novel, "she was as tough as a totter's ferret."
When and where street scavengers were accompanied by ferrets, I don't know.
All I could find were references to their being used by *rural* hunters to
help flush out rabbits.
But perhaps (though I find no source that says so) "ferret" has been used
as a slang term to mean an urchin hired to assist such an urban "hunter"?
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