"clinker" (n.3), 1940

ronbutters at AOL.COM ronbutters at AOL.COM
Sat May 30 03:20:06 UTC 2009

In my childhood in Iowa, a clinker was a large hard cinder left on the grate of a coal furnace. The term was applied to people who disappointed or behaved imperiously.
------Original Message------
From: Joel S. Berson
Sender: ADS-L
ReplyTo: ADS-L
Subject: [ADS-L] "clinker" (n.3), 1940
Sent: May 29, 2009 8:17 PM

In "The Corn is Green", after Miss Moffat first meets and faces down
the Squire, there is the following dialogue:

Mrs. Watty [the housekeeper]:  I'm jiggered! What d'you think of 'er,
eh? Ain't she a clinker?

Miss Ronberry [about-to-be assistant schoolmistress]:  She is
unusual, is she not?

Mrs. Watty:  She's a clinker, that's what. Terrible strong-willed, o'
course, terrible. Get 'er into mischief, I keep tellin' 'er. Would
bring me 'ere. ...

Having seen both the play and the Bette Davis film recently, and
re-reading the text, I'm not sure if "clinker" is:

1)  n.3 sense 2. fig. b. "A 'clinking' good thing: applied to
persons, animals, and things of first-rate quality. slang (orig.
Sporting; cf. CLINKING ppl. a. 2)", dating from 1836; where it would
postdate 1936; or

2)  n.3 sense 5.  "slang. (see quot.) (?) Obs.", where it would
postdate "c1690 B. E. Dict. Cant. Crew, Clinker, a crafty Fellow.
1725 so in New Cant. Dict. 1736 in BAILEY (folio)."; or

3)  something different.


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

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

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