Q: Meaning of "ringer"?

N2life4 n2life4 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 11 03:51:01 UTC 2008

One phrase I have heard is 'dead ringer' meaning that
something - or someone - was exactly like the other one.
"She was a "dead ringer" for Palin" (meaning Fey)

In another example, a mistake is deliberately made to see if
anyone is paying attention. A place where I once worked
routinely put additional inexpensive items in a random
customers order to test for #1 attention to details and #2
for honesty. The explantion was that they had "threw a
ringer in to see if anyone would catch it. "

----- Original Message -----
From: "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET

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

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

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

A replied:
>The real answer is that I'm probably misusing it, but I
>associate it with pub trivia contests in which nobody knows
>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
_Notes and Queries_] that is extremely esoteric and perhaps
achieve no answer"?


The American Dialect Society -

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list