"clinker" (n.3), 1940

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat May 30 13:39:13 UTC 2009

A blending of clinker (n.3) "first-rate" with clinker (n.1) "imperious"?

At 5/29/2009 11:03 PM, Mark Mandel wrote:
>Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
>Just from the quote, I'd interpret it as very roughly "something impressive"
>or "a real piece of work": strongly evaluative, but could be either positive
>or negative. I feel I could substitute into its uses here as "Ain't she
>somethin'?" and "She's somethin' else, all right." This is just a WAG, of

In the context, definitely admiring .  There's more than a bit of fem
lib in the play. "clinker" n.3 sense 2. fig. b.

And ronbutters at AOL.COM wrote:
In my childhood in Iowa, a clinker was a large hard cinder left on
the grate of a coal furnace. [Mine too.]  The term was applied to
people who disappointed or behaved imperiously.

"clinker" n.1 but not quite in the OED for this concrete sense (close
perhaps is sense 3, "A hard mass formed by the fusion of the earthy
impurities of coal, lime-stone, iron ore, or the like, in a furnace
or forge; a mass of slag."), and definitely not for the figurative sense.


On Fri, May 29, 2009 at 8:17 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:

> > 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

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

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