Q: Meaning of "ringer"?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Dec 10 19:42:03 UTC 2008

Can anyone help me understand the meaning and derivation of "ringer"
below?  (And is it in the OED?)

About a series of email messages on an odd question but one which
caught the fancy of several persons, person A wrote
>This is like the best of those great weird ringers in old 19th-c.
>issues of 'Notes & Queries.'

I asked what "ringer" meant, wondering about the game of horseshoes.

A replied:
>The real answer is that I'm probably misusing it, but I always
>associate it with pub trivia contests in which nobody knows the
>answer, and in the silence the announcer says, "Okay, that was a ringer."

So I now wonder, does "ringer" mean "A question [e.g., query in
_Notes and Queries_] that is extremely esoteric and perhaps will
achieve no answer"?


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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