coons & cutters

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Dec 10 21:41:47 UTC 2001

>... The dictionaries show "coon" = person, man, as current at about this
>time, but the most likely meaning for "cutter" (= an attractive girl)
>comes from the 1870s.  Are there other meanings?

 From the context presented, I would speculate that "coon" and "cutter"
refer not to persons but to pieces of equipment. A cutter might be some
type of cutting tool; "coon" is opaque to me. Both Coon and Cutter are
reasonably common surnames; perhaps hoses or pumps or fire-axes or boots or
whatever came in Coon(tm) and Cutter(tm) brands. Another possibility:
"coon" = "washer", an engine whose capacity permits overflow [a raccoon is
traditionally an animal which 'washes' things], "cutter" = the opposite, an
engine which is of inadequate capacity and which thus "cuts" the available
overall flow. Still another possibility: one type of fire or building might
have been designated "coon" because it called for climbing, another
"cutter" because it called for cutting through a wall or door. Just wild
speculations from ignorance.

>I don't see "leader" in the OED, with reference to fire-hose.

Here it is:

-- Doug Wilson

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