Actionable Offenses: Scrouge

Tue Jul 8 14:18:01 UTC 2008

        I initially discounted the likelihood of a link between
"scrouge" and "screw" because of the different vowel sounds, but
apparently the vowel sound in "scrouge" can vary, so conceivably there
is some connection.  What say our experts?  Jon, Jonathon, Jesse?

        "Sim" is an old-fashioned name or nickname.  I'm not aware of
any particular significance to it, but maybe there was one in the 1890s.
I expect that the narrator said "Sim Jones" because he forgot he was
supposed to be talking about "Sim Hadley."  The title, Sim Hadley on a
Racket, makes it sound as if that's our hero's name, but the speaker is
supposedly Willy Brown.  Is there any significance to the use of
"racket" to mean an "assignation whorehouse"?

        The reference to the Spanish fellows would be because of the
high tensions with Spain during this period, which was around the time
of the Spanish-American War.  The liner notes suggest that Maud was
singing "Over the Bounding Main" because she "took" the three Spanish
fellows in her wine sale.

        "Gall bladder" means someone with a lot of gall, according to
the liner notes.  Not in HDAS. has the CD for $12.98, with free shipping if your total
order is at least $25.  That's the best price I saw.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Douglas G. Wilson
Sent: Monday, July 07, 2008 11:57 PM
Subject: Re: Actionable Offenses: Scrouge

This is very interesting (thanks). Here are some audio samples.
>         "Scrouge" is a pre-existing word.  OED1 defines it as "To
> incommode by pressing against (a person); to encroach on (a person's)
> space in sitting or standing; to crowd."  Similarly, the Century
> Dictionary says it means "To squeeze; press; crowd."
This is about the same as "scrooch", I think. Is there any relation to
>         <<Sim Hadley on a Racket, a very pathetic recitation by little

> Willy Brown.
>         Hadley:  Heh, heh!  By Jesus, I'll tell you just one thing,
> that is, I ain't going round this double asshole town any longer with
> my pecker on dress parade.  I'm going to sink my sausage if it costs
> fifty cents and I don't give a damn who knows it.  Sim Jones, he told
> me this number four hundred and sixty eight was an assignation
> whorehouse, I'm going in to get a little of that there assignation on
> the end of my pecker.  [Knocking]  By God, if Mandy saw me now there'd

> be hell in the household!  [Knocking]  Come on in there, God damn it,
come to the door.
> Oh, look at this coming, there's a face on you, bend a nail, says I.
Why are Hadley and Jones both called "Sim"? Is this just a given name
(and a great coincidence) or is this "Sim" some sort of nickname or
>         Madam:  Well, sir, what do you want?
>  ...

>         Madam:  All right, step in the back parlor.  Maud!  Maud!
> There's a gentleman in the parlor.
>         Maud:  I'll be down in a minute.  I've got three Spanish
> fellows here buying wine.
Does this have some special meaning?
>         Hadley:  Oh shit, every old bag's named Maud.  [Liner notes
> transliterate as "No shit," which would be a significant antedating,
> but I think it's "Oh" rather than "No."]
> ...

>         Hadley:  And you'll have to get down and blow through it, I
> guess, the damn thing's plugged up or something.
Here is the presumptive predecessor-concept of "blow" = "fellate", I
>         Maud:  Look here, what do you take me for?
>         Hadley:  Oh well, that's all right, then.  I'm going home.  I
> can get done other places.
>         Maud:  You just give me a dollar!
>         Hadley:  You just go and scratch your ass - Jesus, no scrouge,

> no dollar, that's the way it is with me.
>         Maud:  You give me a dollar or I'll have you arrested.
>         Hadley:  You go and shit in your hat, you damn gall bladder!
Here is a new (to me anyway) term of abuse!
>  No dollar, no scrouge, no scrouge, no dollar.>>
>         I noticed only one other unusual usage on the CD, from a set
> of
> conundrums:
>         <<"By the way, John, what is the difference between a flag and

> a frig?
>         "Well, one is bunting, and the other is cunting!">>
>         Is this an antedating for "cunt" as a verb?
Maybe nonce.

I should buy the CD. Is there a good (preferably cheap) source?

-- Doug Wilson

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