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January 19, 2012


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My sense is that "masher" was in slang use in the US through the early to mid 20th Century, but by the '50s, it had effectively vanished. While I've heard it used in old films shot in, or about the first half of the Century, I've never heard it in actual "live" use.

Virtual Linguist

Thanks, John. I'm surprised it was around that late.

Jemmy Hope

I've always liked 'poodle-faker', also 'lounge-lizard', though it doesn't have quite the same meaning. Then there's 'coureur de dames', I guess that's one for use "devant les domestiques".


Good ones, Jemmy.

My own memory goes back to the early Fiftiesa and I can't recall hearing "masher" except in old films, specifically slapstick comedies.

Virtual Linguist

Thanks, Jemmy. I forgot to mention lounge-lizard (I did once post on it here: http://virtuallinguist.typepad.com/the_virtual_linguist/2009/03/lounge-lizard.html#tp ). I'd never heard of coureur de dames, so thanks for that one.

Jemmy Hope

The French, it seems, now shorten 'coureur de dames' to 'coureur'. Here's an interesting piece about the 'non-equivalence' of French descriptive terms for men and women -

Virtual Linguist

Thanks, Jemmy, but I can't get the URL to work.

Jemmy Hope

Hmm, something missing.
I've since remembered that 'coureur' for womaniser was not in the posting I tried to link to, but was a was used of sleazy old Dominique Strauss-Kahn in an article I read.
Should anyone still wish to read the piece it's copied at -
with a link to the original. It makes a serious point in a not too serious fashion.

Virtual Linguist

A very interesting post, Jemmy. Well worth reading. Don't know if it's just me, but I can't see the link you refer to.

Your post reminds me that there are absolutely hundreds of words in dictionaries - OED and slang dictionaries - which mean 'whore', including nun, kitty, dolly, mackerel, goose, mystery and very many other words. I often give a talk to community groups entitled 'Is English a Man's Language?'. Here's a summary from one group's website: http://www.ewell-probus.org.uk/programme/2011/Language.htm

Jemmy Hope

Sorry, the link is not in the text but at the end of the post. I checked and it does work.

Virtual Linguist

Oh yes, sorry Jemmy, my fault - I was looking in the wrong place. Very good and funny piece.


Your comment that you were surprised "masher" was around at mid-century took me aback, because I was sure I remembered the term being used in the movie The Courtship of Eddie's Father. I did a search for it and found a clip of the scene in which it's used. http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/200945/Courtship-of-Eddie-s-Father-The-Movie-Clip-Mashers.html The film was a 1963 release.

Virtual Linguist

Thank you so much for taking the time to look up that clip, Mimi. Very interesting! Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Pocho Luna

Came across this 19th century newspaper article while researching vagrancy laws

Virtual Linguist

Thank you, Pocho. That's very interesting indeed. Is it from a Chicago newspaper?

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