"ringer" = someone with unexpected assets?

Marc Velasco marcjvelasco at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 16 06:30:24 UTC 2008

my sense of ringer combines the two usages you mentioned (as seen here:

"In 1844 the Derby itself was won by a "ringer" - an older, stronger horse
running in a race confined to three-year-olds ..."

So, it's not that there are two, independent usages, it's that the
fraudulent presentation is so because it deliberately understates the
capabilities of the 'ringer,' often, we are to believe, for a monetary (ie,
gambling) advantage for the deceiver.

Perhaps usage of ringer evolved away from this (alleged) origin (see
that is what the OED is showing.

For some reason, I can only associate it with horse-racing, but I suppose it
could be used in allegations of 18-year olds playing in Little League, or
with certain Chinese gymnasts, against whom, if I recall, allegations were
made that they were too young.

On Thu, Oct 16, 2008 at 12:27 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      "ringer" = someone with unexpected assets?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> For me, "ringer" doesn't only mean someone (such as a horse)
> substituted for another competitor fraudulently.  In other contexts,
> it can mean someone who arrives with unexpected capabilities.  (The
> example I have is a copyeditor who knew enough about the subject
> matter to help the author improve the text -- pointing out errors, etc.)
> This sense doesn't seem to be in the OED, and a superficial look on
> the Internet failed to turn it up either (Google "define ringer",
> Wikipedia, urbandictionary).
> Joel
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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