The trade of "slathener" or "slatherner"?

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Thu Dec 29 05:40:38 UTC 2005

>What was a "slathener" or "slatherner"?  (Both spellings
>appear.)  It's some kind of skill for which an indenture was drawn up
>for an apprentice in 1676 New England.
>Not in OED2 or on the web.  Even "slather" (verb and noun) shows only
>the usual senses, including various sexual applications.  And the
>German verb "slathen" simply means "to slather"; "schmieren".

I don't have a decisive answer. However, by woolgathering furiously, I
hypothesize an inept spelling and assume "slaht-" instead of "slath-". Now
it looks a little less opaque. I don't know why German has been mentioned,
but German "Schlachter"/"Schlaechter" would approximate English "butcher"
in some contexts, according to my limited understanding, and the spelling
"slaht-" is found in older German (for this) and in older English (for
"slaughter"). I don't know offhand how this relates to German "Schaechter"
= "shohet"/"shochet" [Hebrew] = [more/less] "slaughterer". The German verb
"schlachten" would mean "slaughter" or "butcher", I think. So until a
better idea appears one might (depending on further context of course)
consider the possibility of "butcher".

-- Doug Wilson

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