A load of old tut (sp.?)
Posted: 10 November 2012 12:46 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Tut, in London and SE England generally, is in common use to mean ‘objects or material of no aesthetic merit, use or monetary value’. A china figurine could be ‘a piece of tut’. Any cupboard in my mother-in-law’s house is full of ‘old tut’. I’m not sure of the spelling, as I’ve never read it and never had occasion to write it before, and nor has anybody else I’ve asked, but it rhymes with put and foot.

Has anyone any thoughts on the possible origin of this word? I’ve looked at the OED entries for tut, toot, tout and toute, and none of them contains anything that seems relevant. It certainly overlaps in meaning with tat, but that seems an odd jump of vowel sound.

I’d be interested to know how large a geographical spread it has, too.

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Posted: 10 November 2012 03:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Must say I don’t recognize it.  Could it be a corruption of ‘tat’ which I would use in similar circumstances?

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Posted: 10 November 2012 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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could it have anything to do with Pharaoh Tut-Ankh-Amun? In the 1920’s the discovery of this king’s tomb, almost intact, caught the popular fancy, and received world-wide publicity - I think even popular songs got written about it - and a very popular name for the poor little guy was (and still is) “King Tut”. All kinds of stuff -souvenirs, etc. : “King Tut” drinking mugs, “King Tut” dolls, and similar junk - were marketed.

(this is just a dziggetai guess, not a reasoned hypothesis)

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Posted: 10 November 2012 01:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Syntinen Laulu - 10 November 2012 12:46 AM

Tut, in London and SE England generally, is in common use to mean ‘objects or material of no aesthetic merit, use or monetary value’. A china figurine could be ‘a piece of tut’. Any cupboard in my mother-in-law’s house is full of ‘old tut’.

Up until a Google Books search two minutes ago, I would have said: “No, no. you mean ‘tat’. You must have misheard.” I’ve never heard “tut” used like that, and I’m a Londoner of early 1950s vintage: “tat”, generally “old tat”, is the only version I know in those senses. However, the evidence is clear that you’re right, and “tut” is used as a synonym of “tat” in and around London. Here’s a line from the song ”Clevor Trever” by Ian Dury (born 1942 in Harrow, North West London):

Nothing underfoot comes to nothing less to add to a load of old tut, and I ain’t half not half glad cos there’s nowhere to put it, even if I had

where clearly “tut” had the “foot” vowel, not the “strut” vowel. And here’s another one:

I wandered into a shop selling bric-a-brac, in which a woman with alarmingly hennaed hair was sitting on a chair surrounded by what David Dickinson would describe as ‘ephemera’ and my old mum, somewhat more succinctly, as ‘old tut’.

from a book by the actor and writer Michael Simkins, born 1957 in Greenford, North West London.

So there we are: two people born in years bracketing my own birth in places only a few miles from where I was born using a variant I can’t recall ever having heard of a word I otherwise know well.

That is, I feel pretty confident saying “tut” IS a variant of “tat, n.5b, rubbish, junk, worthless goods” (OED), since they seem to mean exactly the same thing. But how you get from “tat” to “tut” I have no idea.

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Posted: 11 November 2012 02:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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"A load of old tat” is often heard in the north, but never “a load of old tut”.  OED says the origin of “tat” is uncertain, possibly from Old English tættec a rag, a tatter. The phrase “rags and tatters” isn’t in OED but of the noun “tatter n.1”, OED has this to say:

Known only from c1400, but evidenced in earlier use by tattered adj*. Of Scandinavian origin: compare Old Norse *taturr (later Icelandic tǫturr, töturr), plural tötrar tatters, rags, in Norwegian dialect totra, plural totror. In Old French an instance of tatereles rags, tatters (‘a ces vies tatereles vestues’) occurs in Aucassin et Nicolette vi.

“Tattered” is from tatter n.1.  I’m mildly surprised that “tat” and “tatter” don’t appear to be related.

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Posted: 12 November 2012 12:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Any connection with “tit for tat”, or is that just a chance similarity?

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Posted: 12 November 2012 12:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Apparently not.  OED:

1. In phr. tit for tat [apparently a variation of tip for tap, known a century earlier: see tap n.2, tip n.2, and compare tit n.1 But perhaps wholly or partly onomatopoeic.] One blow or stroke in return for another; an equivalent given in return (usually in the way of injury, rarely of benefit); retaliation. Also used as rhyming slang for ‘hat’. Cf. titfer n.The whole phrase is used sometimes as a n., sometimes as adj. or adv.; also, elliptically or as int.

1556 J. Heywood Spider & Flie xxxvii. 26 That is tit for tat in this altricacion.

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Posted: 12 November 2012 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Zythophile, I did a post about Clevor Trever here and had it as “a load of old toot” which I’ve definitely heard elsewhere.

There’s an early ‘70s song by David Bowie called Queen Bitch:

She’s so swishy in her satin and tat
In her frock coat
and bipperty-bopperty hat

There’s tatty and tatterdemalion, too.

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Posted: 12 November 2012 03:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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tatterdemalion

Now there’s a delightful word!  Usable, too. I’ve had occasion to use it to refer to my employer’s wardrobe (fortunately, he’s also a personal friend)

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Posted: 14 November 2012 12:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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venomousbede - 12 November 2012 07:07 AM

Zythophile, I did a post about Clevor Trever here and had it as “a load of old toot” which I’ve definitely heard elsewhere.

The link I gave there is to a book called Hallo Sausages: The Lyrics of Ian Dury, so the spelling “tut” can be taken to be canonical in so far as “Clevor Trever” is concerned, I think.

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