"ringer" = someone with unexpected assets?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Oct 16 14:06:56 UTC 2008

Marc, it's the NONfraudulent employment of ringers that I was
interested in, and which is NOT (I think) in the OED.  Ben's message
has told me it's in two dictionaries I don't have on my desktop.


At 10/16/2008 02:30 AM, Marc Velasco wrote:
>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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