Chris F Waigl chris at LASCRIBE.NET
Fri Sep 22 19:24:15 UTC 2006

Michael Quinion wrote:

> You have to be of a certain age to remember winkle-pickers, a fashion of
> the late 1950s in the UK, especially among Mods. The name comes from the
> long pointed toes, so needle-like you could almost imagine using one to
> get the meat out of a winkle. The eating of bowls of winkles in our
> seaside resorts is now much less common than it once was, but they were
> once beloved of Cockney Harrys and Harriets out for some fun.

There's something strange going on with the word, at least once it
migrated out of English into German.

I'm familiar with the German word "Winkelpicker" to designate a
particular style of fishing rod, used by hobby anglers to catch small
white sweet-water fish. This particular style of fishing has lots of
technical terms borrowed, one way or other, from English -- but also
from other languages, some of which aren't immediately clear to me.

I always heard (back in Germany) that the term was supposedly American.
Which doesn't mean anything, because the people that told me this would
have attributed any borrowing from English (the language) to America
(the country).

German references seem to be more plentiful than English ones, though.
(Examples: German:,winkelpicker

Chris Waigl

The American Dialect Society -

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