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Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Steve, Mar 17, 2006.

  1. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    If you're of a certain age, "nimrod" is a part of your vocabulary, meaning "fool", "idiot", "dolt", etc.

    Using any other source than Wikipedia (which eventually gives away the answer, if you read the entire entry), why did nimrod come to have that slang meaning?
  2. Stonehawk

    Stonehawk AKA Jerry

    The only reference I can find (using word-detective.com) is the following:

    Nimrod was used for centuries as a simple word for hunter (ie from the Genesis book of the bible). It was popularized in the 1940's by none other than Bugs Bunny, who called Elmer Fudd "Poor Little Nimrod" in several cratoons. There are references to it being used as "jerk or idiot" slang a couple of places in the 1930's, but really took off in the 1940's.

    Do I get a dolly for guessing? ;)

  3. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    Guess I should have excluded word-detective.com, too! :)
  4. Piobaireachd

    Piobaireachd Full Member

  5. MNeedham73

    MNeedham73 Well-Known Member

  6. Piobaireachd

    Piobaireachd Full Member

  7. Brazbit

    Brazbit Nah... It can't be.

  8. joseftu

    joseftu ORIGINAL Pomp-Dumpster

    You didn't exclude the OED!
  9. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    Since the Nimrod defintion seems to have been run into the ground, here's something just for fun.

    A foreign friend of mine passed on a bit of word trivia: the word "underdog" is normally assumed to have been derived from the old European dog fights, with the loser of the fight being the said underdog.

    My friend informs me that it was also used to describe a particular job during the age of great sails. Name the country it was used in, and the job.
  10. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    I'm going to guess, knowing one of the meanings of dog, that it was a person who worked in the bottom of a ship's hold, loading and unloading?

    As to the country, England?
  11. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    Right as to country, not the job though... and nothing on board a ship.

    But you're on the right track with the concept! :thumbsup:
  12. cmhbob

    cmhbob Did...did I do that? Staff Member

    Someone on the other end of the unloading process; perhaps the lucky chap who has to anchor the lifting lines, or is the one underneath the load, guiding it to the dock?
  13. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    Getting closer, but nothing to do with being on a ship, nor even on the dock of an active ship.
  14. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    The person dropped over the side of a ship to clear growth and barnacles off the bottom of a ship?
  15. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    Nope... the job is related to the building of sailing ships, nothing to do with sailors.
  16. Piobaireachd

    Piobaireachd Full Member

    Well, in shipbuilding, dogs were used to lift the ship off of the blocks on the slipway in preparation for lauching (where the ship slides down the slipway into the water).

    The dogs were wedges. It's tradition that the commissioning crew of a ship pound the dogs to lift the ship. I did it at Bath Iron Works when we lauched my last ship, the USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53).
  17. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    Seems there are a lot of "dogs" when it comes to ships. :)

    According to my friend, the term under dog was used back when planks for ships were cut from logs by hand. The lumber was cut using an 8-10 foot long two-man saw, with the log suspended over a rough-dug rectangular pit.

    The senior sawyer, or "top dog" was the fellow above ground, guiding the cut and pulling on the upstroke. The "under dog" was the apprentice in the pit with the rot, rats and mud, who had to both pull and push over his head, eating sawdust all day, six or seven days a week.
  18. Piobaireachd

    Piobaireachd Full Member

    Doh, I remember that now!

    Yes, the handles on the water tight doors are also called dogs. You "dog" the hatch with a dogging wrench (piece of pipe) so the "knife edge" has a complete contact with the rubber seal.
  19. ravital

    ravital Banned

    If memory serves, here in America in Shaker villages up here in the North-East, that was also called a "pitman" since that was the man in the pit.

    Thanks, that was instructive.
  20. joseftu

    joseftu ORIGINAL Pomp-Dumpster

    I hate to say it, Advocat, but it sure sounds like your friend is passing along a folk etymology.

    Can he cite any sources? I'd sure like to see them. The OED, along with every other source I can find, traces the term only to the dog-fighting origin.

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