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Fine as a potbellied pig
Posted: 10 September 2007 06:57 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The man that I am dating was cat-called this past weekend by a woman who said he was “finer than a potbellied pig”, and then also called him, “cute as a pickle”. She was obviously from a Southern State, due to her heavy accent. Does anyone know what these phrases mean? Or where this woman may have been from?

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Posted: 10 September 2007 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I don’t think there is any doubt about meaning. You can simply drop the reference. Fine is fine and cute is cute.

And welcome to Wordorigins!

edit to add welcome - redit to drop wrongheaded comment

[ Edited: 11 September 2007 07:48 AM by happydog ]
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Posted: 10 September 2007 01:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’ll ignore the dig at trailer-park folk and just mention that “cute as a pickle”, though I’ve never heard it before, gets 7 Google hits (yeah, that’s not many, but...) and is apparently the inspiration for this line of baby clothes.

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Posted: 10 September 2007 09:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Cornish dialect is full of phrases of comparison, some of which are relevant, some colourful, some downright obscure.  I’m not saying these phrases are a hand-down from Cornish, but it’s what sprung to my mind first.  Take a look:

Gaping (yawning) like a young rook
Wet as a dishwasher
Full as a egg (of lowering skies)
He got more money than a ‘oss can shit.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 02:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Nemmine “finer than a potbellied pig” and “cute as a pickle.” What dooes “cat-called” mean?

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Posted: 11 September 2007 05:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Faldage - 11 September 2007 02:10 AM

Nemmine “finer than a potbellied pig” and “cute as a pickle.” What dooes “cat-called” mean?

I’ve heard of that in the upper midwest of leftpondia.  It’s usually when a man sees a nice looking woman passing by and whistles and/or makes an appreciative comment, not always polite.  I think I’ve heard the whistle referred to as a “cat-whistle.”

I should say that I’ve not heard of the verb construction, but its meaning seems apparent to me.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 06:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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You can simply drop the reference.

What does this mean?  Also, please drop the bigotry.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 07:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Oecolampadius - 11 September 2007 05:42 AM

I think I’ve heard the whistle referred to as a “cat-whistle.”

It’s a ‘wolf-whistle’ this side of the pond

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Posted: 11 September 2007 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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flynn999 - 11 September 2007 07:10 AM

It’s a ‘wolf-whistle’ this side of the pond

And that’s what it is on this side as well.  I was misremembering.  Also most of the online dictionaries note that “cat-call” is only derisive and expressing disapproval.  I may be misremembering that part as well.
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Posted: 11 September 2007 08:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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languagehat - 11 September 2007 06:31 AM

You can simply drop the reference.

What does this mean?  Also, please drop the bigotry.

If someone says “you’re as cute as a *whatever*” they’re referring your cuteness to the cuteness of the whatever. But it still means that you are cute, regardless of the reference to the whatever.

My wrongheaded comment has been removed.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 10:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Several words and phrases have been used in this thread in ways unfamiliar to me.  “Cat-called”, for instance.  In my reading --- sparse as it has admittedly been --- I’ve usually encountered “cat-calls” as nouns, rather than as transitive verbs. I associate cat-calls with jeers, such as might be delivered by a dissatisfied audience at a theatrical or other performance. I’m not sure what the OP means when she says that her friend was cat-called. The phrases used by the cat-caller certainly sound abusive to me (I should not like to be compared, however favourably, to a pot-bellied pig --- “more eloquent than a pot-bellied pig”? “sexier than a pot-bellied pig”?), or else make no sense at all ("cute" and “pickle” simply don’t match up, in my lexicon, any more than do, say, “pensive” and “salami"). And yet other posters seem to have no doubt about the meaning --- Happydog: “fine is fine and cute is cute”. I’ve heard small wayward children described as “pickles” --- as far as I was concerned, the term was a euphemism for “ought by rights to be strangled”.

So with me, it’s Faldage si, Happydog no. I’d like a clarification from the Original Poster. Did her friend offend this lady in some way --- perhaps inadvertently? Or does the OP (who alone knows the context) believe the lady was making a pass at her friend? Please—let there be light! (and welcome to wordorigins.org from me, too, gretchen)

Regarding trailer parks: twenty-five years ago I visited a cousin of mine in Santa Barbara, CA, who wrote that she lived in a trailer park. I arrived (secretly harbouring uncomfortable visions of “Tobacco Road") at a vast estate, encircled by a security fence, guarded by a corps of commandos with jeeps and automatic weapons, landscaped with “gardens bright with sinuous rills”, equipped with clubhouse, sauna, gymnasium, and all sorts of other goodies. The habitations were mobile homes, priced well into six figures, and with about twice the living space of the crumbling hovel I inhabit here at home --- which is only mobile vertically, when bits fall off it. I’ll take that trailer park, and whatever social stigma goes with it, any day of the week. ;-)

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Posted: 11 September 2007 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Pot-bellied pigs are exotics in the USA, kept as pets rather than for pork (didn’t George Clooney have one that he was devoted to?). So I can just about imagine “pot-bellied pig” being used as a simile for anyone pampered, soft, overindulged, and so on.  If “cute” is used in the USA in the sense of “sharp, clever” (as it often is in Ireland) then “cute as a pickle” would make sense, given that vinegar is “sharp”. But I can’t really imagine anyone launching the two epithets together at the same person.

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Posted: 13 September 2007 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Let me just say first that I am from Florida, so there is no intended bigotry or slur to Southern US states. I was simply commenting on the woman’s accent in the hopes that someone would recognize the origin of the phrase. Maybe Alabama or Kentucky?

Now, the remark was made as we were leaving the beach and he was shirtless. And looking mighty fine! ; )

The women were leaving a bar/diner and after the above remarks, mentioned that they were intoxicated. The remarks were definitely not derogatory, and reminded me in a sense of when construction workers call out to women. Hence my use of cat call. Cat calling is a phrase used in the US to describe when men, such as construction workers, call out to women walking by. The women are the cats being called to. I used the phrase to describe what happened because I did not have a better way to describe the incident.

And yes, George Clooney did have a potbellied pig. When I googled the phrase, several articles about his pig came up. However, nothing pertinent relating to the phrases…

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Posted: 13 September 2007 09:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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CAT CALL. A kind of whistle, chiefly used at theatres, to
interrupt the actors, and damn a new piece. It derives
its name from one of its sounds, which greatly resembles
the modulation of an intriguing boar cat.

From Capt Grose’s 1811 Dic of the Vulgar Tongue, mentioned in Dave’s bibliography I think. http://infomotions.com/etexts/gutenberg/dirs/etext04/dcvgr10.htm

I had also read that Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs behaved more like dogs and were popular pets in the States

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Posted: 13 September 2007 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I think “catcall” has meant (in ‘standard’ English) a disapproving shout or whistle for the last 350 years or so; it’s still used this way although the transitive verb is (I think) infrequent in this sense.

“Catcall” referring to an approving call or an expression of appreciation or desire for a sex object or so appears only very recently, AFAIK; I see the expression in literature only within the last 10 years, at a glance. I don’t see it in any of my dictionaries (slang or other) except the unreliable on-line “urbandictionary” (I don’t have the latest edition of the Cassell’s slang dictionary).

Hard to tell why this new expression arose, but I guess it does fill a need. Too bad it bumped into the other “catcall” and thus will often be ambiguous. Is there a concise equivalent? “Wolf-call” of course is analogous, but I think many/most people would understand this as specifically a whistle, and maybe it’s getting obsolete anyway.

[ Edited: 13 September 2007 02:43 PM by D Wilson ]
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Posted: 13 September 2007 11:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Well, that’s that one cleared up. I can see now why gretchen said “cat-call”. “She-wolf whistle” or “she-wolf call” sound quite terrifyingly predatory.

Ed.: I wonder what a “boar cat” is.  would “boar” be intended simply to signify maleness, like “bull moose”? I know “boar-pig” (there’s a story of that name by “Saki").

[ Edited: 14 September 2007 12:03 AM by lionello ]
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