"cheese hound" --thanx

Jonathon Green slang at BLUEYONDER.CO.UK
Sat Jul 7 09:34:12 UTC 2001

A small addendum to 'cheese' (which I should have thought about before, and
overlooked in my eagerness to offer 'keeshond'): this form of cheese, usu.
found as 'the cheese', has nothing to do with the comestible; its roots lie
in Persian and Urdu _chiz_, thing. Yule and Burnell note in _Hobson-Jobson_
(1886) 'The expression used to be common among Anglo-Indians, e.g. "My new
Arab [horse] is the real _chiz_", i.e. the real thing.' Note also Charles
Kingsley's punning nonce-word _casein_, the real thing, f. SE casein, the
basic ingredient of cheese. Finally some early cits:

1. the best (of a given type or style), the superlative
a.1880 'Walking in the Zoo' (in Henderson _Victorian Street Ballads_ 1937)
75: The Stilton, sir, the cheese, the O.K. thing to do, / On Sunday
afternoons, is to toddle to the Zoo.

NB. _Stilton_ was synonymous in late 19C, meaning both the best of a type,
and an important or influential person; _Cheshire_ (another UK cheese
variety) also meant 'the best' c. 1900; note also the late 19C _that's the
Limburger_, once again denoting 'the best'. All cases, of course pun on real
names of cheeses.

[Joyce has 'the cheese' it in 'Two Gallants' (in Dubliners 1914)]

2. just what is wanted
1843 Haliburton _The Clockmaker_ Whatever is the go in Europe will soon be
the cheese here

Jonathon Green

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