fancy one’s fat
Posted: 30 June 2013 12:57 AM   [ Ignore ]
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My husband’s family all come from the Medway Towns in Kent, a cluster of towns centred on Chatham Royal Naval Dockyard and Barracks, for centuries the main source of employment, where as a consequence a great deal of naval and military slang has been absorbed into the local language. One odd expression they use is ‘to fancy one’s fat’, meaning ‘to think one looks well’; as in “He really fancies his fat in his dress uniform”. Has anyone else ever heard this expression? and if so, where?

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Posted: 30 June 2013 03:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Is it the possessive “one’s” or “his”? Or is it a contraction for “one is” or “he is”?

The OED has a sense of fat, n.3, that would then work in the expression. It means a dandy or fop. It’s from the same French/Latin root as fatuous.

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Posted: 30 June 2013 07:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Is it the possessive “one’s” or “his”?

I believe SL was just creating a generalized form on the spur of the moment; cf. her example “He really fancies his fat.”

Frankly, fat ‘dandy or fop,’ a French borrowing that is clearly marked as foreign by itals or quote marks in the few OED cites (1832 F. Trollope Domest. Manners Amer. I. xx. 333 ‘Monsieur,’ said my young fat, with an indescribable grimace; 1853 C. Brontë Villette I. xiv. 265, I took my revenge on this ‘fat’, by making him as fatuitous as I possibly could; 1876 ‘G. Eliot’ Daniel Deronda III. v. xxxv. 38 How that fat Deronda can bear looking at her) strikes me as a very unlikely source of a dockyards slang expression.

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Posted: 30 June 2013 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I suspect that in the case of “to fancy one’s fat” we shall have no option but to invoke CANOE. The phrase sounds as genuine as yo-heave-ho.

;-)

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Posted: 02 July 2013 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Just idle speculation, but I wonder if the expression is related to any of the various uses of “fat” for such things as wealth, abundance, or richness (a richness of or in anything, not just money).  I realize a young soldier who is admiring himself in his nice new uniform is very likely not “wealthy”, but I could imagine a fancy/impressive uniform being figuratively described as “rich” or “splendid,” and, by extension, a young soldier admiring his (figurative) “fat[ness]” in it. I could also imagine, more broadly, “fat” being used to figuratively refer to a sense of satisfaction with one’s appearance, again based on the “plentiful”, “abundant”, “properous”, “rich” senses of “fat.” I certainly wouldn’t argue that that’s the origin of the expression based on such idle speculation, of course, but those were the senses of “fat” that sprung to mind when reading the OP.

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Posted: 02 July 2013 09:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Not one example of “Fancy/fancies his/her/their/your fat” without a noun could I find anywhere, either in google books or on the net. “Fat” meaning dandy has had no citations for 250 years in OED.  The Brontes give one of the most recent examples.  Odd.

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