Hatstand
Posted: 18 October 2011 07:44 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Where has this word been hiding?  I had no idea it could mean, at least in the UK, eccentric, crazy unhinged. Are other Brits here familiar with it? Earliest cite in OED is 1987.

1987 Viz June 19 (heading) Roger Irrelevant. He’s completely hat stand.
1995 Irish Times (Nexis) 22 Dec. 10 The album‥ends in a demented, self effacing epitaph which comes poignantly close to autobiography. Completely and utterly hatstand.
1997 J-17 Oct. 107/1 Celebs do surreal feast and answer hat-stand questions.
2002 Mojo Feb. 106/4 Upwards At 45 Degrees pretty-much has it all,‥climaxing with some throat-singing that’s hatstand as March hares on poppers.

I’d been casting my eye over the hat entry to find the approximate age of the term bad hat (a ne’er-do-well, a scoundrel, as OED delightfully defines it. In the event I had to scoot over to the entry for bad to track it down and found that the earliest cite was 1877. It’s marked as British slang, does it get no use at all in the US?

Speaking of hats, I can’t resist sharing this passage from A Day’s Proceedings of a Reformed Parliament by the great Theodore Hook, (It was written in the early 1830s and pictured how the Commons might appear once the 1832 Reform Act had wreaked its changes.)

Prayers

Mr Snob rose and said as how he thought it were a great waste of time to okipy the Ouse with a lot of praying - he thought it would be quite as well and ample sufficient that every member, on entering the Ouse, should poke his face in his at and mutter a short jackerlation, sich as was done in his parish church. - (Hear.) - He never did no more when he was a churchwarden - (hear, hear) - and he always found that it answered the purpose;

There’s a collection of Hook’s humorous pieces here and it’s well worth the perusal.

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Posted: 18 October 2011 08:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Never heard of it, myself. Perhaps I don’t get out enough.

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Posted: 18 October 2011 08:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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This was a completely new expression to me until aldi’s post, though a quick search shows it’s to be found in publications I read, eg the Guardian in September last year:

I’m just not sure she’s mentally equipped, a win could tip her over the edge from mildly bonkers into totally hatstand.

Now my attention has been drawn to it, I’ll be seeing it daily, I’m sure.

There appears, incidentally, to be a fine Jungian link between aldi’s comment about bad hats and his next quote about the 1832 post-Reform Act parliament. David Cliffe’s Companion to Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited site says here of the phrase “A thoroughly bad hat” that it is “English upper-class slang for an objectionable person, a phrase deriving from the Duke of Wellington’s observation about the middle-class MPs elected to the Reform Parliament of 1832. He had, he said, never seen ‘so many shocking bad hats in my life’.”

Edited just to add that I don’t endorse Mr Cliffe’s claim about the origin of the expression “bad hat” meaning “objectionable person”: another quick search finds no other source seems to back him up.

[ Edited: 18 October 2011 08:54 AM by Zythophile ]
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Posted: 18 October 2011 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Can’t recall encountering bad hat in that sense in the US.  Black hatfor “villain, criminal, evildoer” (from the supposed convention that in westerns, good guys wore white hats and bad guys wore black hats) gets some use here, and has been adopted by the computing community.

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Posted: 18 October 2011 10:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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It’s not in Green’s Dictionary of Slang, which has only:

hatstand n. (US) the head.
1939 P. Cheyney Don’t Get Me Wrong (1956) 54: She gives him one through the hatstand for luck.

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Posted: 18 October 2011 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Zythophile - 18 October 2011 08:15 AM

....... a phrase deriving from the Duke of Wellington’s observation about the middle-class MPs elected to the Reform Parliament of 1832. He had, he said, never seen ‘so many shocking bad hats in my life’.”

Wellington was jokingly using the expression that was a popular catchphrase at the time. Charles Mackay’s excellent book Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, published in 1840, has the details:

“What a shocking bad hat!” was the phrase that was next in vogue. No sooner had it become universal, than thousands of idle but sharp eyes were on the watch for the passenger whose hat showed any signs, however slight, of ancient service. Immediately the cry arose, and, like the war-whoop of the Indians, was repeated by a hundred discordant throats. He was a wise man who, finding himself under these circumstances “the observed of all observers,” bore his honours meekly. He who showed symptoms of ill-feeling at the imputations cast upon his hat, only brought upon himself redoubled notice. The mob soon perceive whether a man is irritable, and, if of their own class, they love to make sport of him. When such a man, and with such a hat, passed in those days through a crowded neighbourhood, he might think himself fortunate if his annoyances were confined to the shouts and cries of the populace. The obnoxious hat was often snatched from his head, and thrown into the gutter by some practical joker, and then raised, covered with mud, upon the end of a stick, for the admiration of the spectators, who held their sides with laughter, and exclaimed in the pauses of their mirth, “Oh! what a shocking bad hat!

The origin of this singular saying, which made fun for the metropolis for months, is not involved in the same obscurity as that which shrouds the origin of Quoz and some others. There had been a hotly-contested election for the borough of Southwark, and one of the candidates was an eminent hatter. This gentleman, in canvassing the electors, adopted a somewhat professional mode of conciliating their good-will, and of bribing them without letting them perceive that they were bribed. Whenever he called upon or met a voter whose hat was not of the best material, or, being so, had seen its best days, he invariably said, “What a shocking bad hat you have got; call at my warehouse, and you shall have a new one!” Upon the day of election this circumstance was remembered, and his opponents made the most of it, by inciting the crowd to keep up an incessant cry of “What a shocking bad hat!” all the time the honourable candidate was addressing them. From Southwark the phrase spread over all London, and reigned, for a time, the supreme slang of the season.

No connection to the later term bad hat, I’m quite sure.

[ Edited: 18 October 2011 02:32 PM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 18 October 2011 05:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’ve heard or at least read it in the UK, but then I frequented a message board where people call each other every possible expression to characterise others as mad, and even invent a few. When the moderators cracked down on ‘ment’ at the behest of someone who had genuine mental health problems and felt offended, posters began referring to mint and calling things or people ‘minty’.

My personal favourite at the moment is from Kinky Friedman: ‘out where the buses don’t run’. I don’t know whether he invented it or not.

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Posted: 19 October 2011 01:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Zythophile - 18 October 2011 08:15 AM
....... a phrase deriving from the Duke of Wellington’s observation about the middle-class MPs elected to the Reform Parliament of 1832. He had, he said, never seen ‘so many shocking bad hats in my life’.”

Wellington was jokingly using the expression that was a popular catchphrase at the time. Charles Mackay’s excellent book Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, published in 1840, has the details:

“What a shocking bad hat!” was the phrase that was next in vogue. No sooner had it become universal, than thousands of idle but sharp eyes were on the watch for the passenger whose hat showed any signs, however slight, of ancient service. Immediately the cry arose, and, like the war-whoop of the Indians, was repeated by a hundred discordant throats. He was a wise man who, finding himself under these circumstances “the observed of all observers,” bore his honours meekly. He who showed symptoms of ill-feeling at the imputations cast upon his hat, only brought upon himself redoubled notice. The mob soon perceive whether a man is irritable, and, if of their own class, they love to make sport of him. When such a man, and with such a hat, passed in those days through a crowded neighbourhood, he might think himself fortunate if his annoyances were confined to the shouts and cries of the populace. The obnoxious hat was often snatched from his head, and thrown into the gutter by some practical joker, and then raised, covered with mud, upon the end of a stick, for the admiration of the spectators, who held their sides with laughter, and exclaimed in the pauses of their mirth, “Oh! what a shocking bad hat!

The origin of this singular saying, which made fun for the metropolis for months, is not involved in the same obscurity as that which shrouds the origin of Quoz and some others. There had been a hotly-contested election for the borough of Southwark, and one of the candidates was an eminent hatter. This gentleman, in canvassing the electors, adopted a somewhat professional mode of conciliating their good-will, and of bribing them without letting them perceive that they were bribed. Whenever he called upon or met a voter whose hat was not of the best material, or, being so, had seen its best days, he invariably said, “What a shocking bad hat you have got; call at my warehouse, and you shall have a new one!” Upon the day of election this circumstance was remembered, and his opponents made the most of it, by inciting the crowd to keep up an incessant cry of “What a shocking bad hat!” all the time the honourable candidate was addressing them. From Southwark the phrase spread over all London, and reigned, for a time, the supreme slang of the season.

No connection to the later term bad hat, I’m quite sure.

I’d be amazed if it weren’t. Sartorial descriptions of people are routinely used figuratively as moral or social ones – consider strait-laced, down-at-heel, bigwig, starchy, and candid – and the accusation that someone’s clothes aren’t what they should be very easily mutates into an aspersion of his honesty. The only question is when that figurative sense overtook the literal one.

The Duke was presumably speaking quite literally – he meant that these men were wearing poor-quality, ill-maintained or tastelessly-shaped hats. But he was also passing moral judgement. To him, and others of his class and time, a well-bred and self-respecting man wouldn’t dream of being seen without a decent hat, and to characterise a man’s hat as ‘shockingly bad’ clearly implied that he was Not Quite The Thing.

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Posted: 19 October 2011 07:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Syntinen Laulu - 19 October 2011 01:36 AM


I’d be amazed if it weren’t. Sartorial descriptions of people are routinely used figuratively as moral or social ones –

Oh certainly. What I meant was that the later expression had no connection with the popular catchphrase, which disappeared into the ether as quickly as it had appeared once it had run its brief course.

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