cream-puff inhaler; cake-eater

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jun 25 16:50:27 UTC 2012

Very versatile, these creampuffs.  I remember learning another sense from our realtor back in the 80s:  a "creampuff" in the housing market is the opposite of a "handyman special", i.e. a house in good condition, on which the buyer will need to make relatively few repairs.  Curiously, this sense isn't in the OED 30 years later (or actually 28, as I know from our state-of-the-mortgage), but there are hundreds of thousands of google hits for "creampuff" + "real estate".  The OED entry is confined to 

also fig. and transf., as  (a) see quot. 1919 [a shell-burst, WWI];  (b) something of small consequence;  (c) an effeminate person.


On Jun 25, 2012, at 12:14 PM, Garson O'Toole wrote:

> Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>> Sounds like BS to me.
>> A "cake-eater" was a "softy" of a sort easily imagined as attending
>> afternoon teas, a common university activity of the era. Moreover,
>> red-blooded he-men were expected to eat muscle-building steaks and
>> fresh-caught trout, not sweet, debilitating cakes and pastries.
>> As for "creampuff-inhaler," I too would like to see evidence for its
>> independent existence.
> Here is an example illustrating the transformative effects of eating
> cream puffs. The consumer becomes a "cylindrical, roly-poly type of
> the cities."
> Cite: Circa 1910, The Invaders: A Story of the "Hole-in-the-wall"
> Country  by John Lloyd [Jacque Lloyd Morgan] Page 227, R.F. Fenno &
> Company, New York. (Google Books full view)
> [Begin excerpt]
> I can think of nothing more effective than a generation or so on Fifth
> Avenue, where, according to your old night-hawk friend, Boston Bill,
> "they eat cream puffs all day long, and drink wine all night"-truly a
> scathing denunciation of the ultra-rich. It may have been that such
> enervating luxuries have transformed the western jaw into the eastern
> chin (I would mark Algernon O'Houlihan as "Exhibit A"), and it may
> have been this same damnable cream-puff vice that has evolved our
> tall, gaunt, angular, thin-bellied forebears into the short,
> cylindrical, roly-poly type of the cities.
> [End excerpt]
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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