Wide
Posted: 29 April 2018 03:35 PM   [ Ignore ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3087
Joined  2007-01-30

In the opening of the 1929 movie, The Great Divide two locals of the small Texan town speak admiringly of the popular young mine-owner who has just left,

“He’s sure one wide hombre.”
“I’ll say he is.”

In British slang wide can mean, as OED says, ‘Shrewd, sharp-witted; cunning; knowledgeable or aware, esp. regarding situations which may be turned (dishonestly) to one’s advantage; skilled in sharp practice, engaging in shady dealings’ but I’m not sure that’s the sense here, firstly because the character is the upright hero and the British wide always intimates dishonesty and secondly because it seems unlikely that Americans would be using British slang. Is there an American usage?

Here’s the clip.

[ Edited: 29 April 2018 03:38 PM by aldiboronti ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2018 08:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4049
Joined  2007-02-26

Sounds to my ears as though he is saying “white”.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2018 08:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  320
Joined  2007-02-24

That’s also what I hear.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 April 2018 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6465
Joined  2007-01-03

I hear white too. White used to be (still is?) a very common slang term. Green’s defines it as:

honest, upright, fair-dealing [coined without any consciously negative overtones and representing a rare (if unsurprisingly) positive racial stereotype, the term has been used in an increasingly ironic manner, esp. since 1960s].

I used to hear it quite often in the ironic sense, but haven’t for decades.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 April 2018 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4619
Joined  2007-01-29

The standard expression in which you used to hear it was “mighty white of you.”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 April 2018 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3087
Joined  2007-01-30

That explains it. I did wonder whether it was white but I’ve never heard it used in quite that fashion, usually, as lh says, mighty white of you or whatever rather than simply he’s a white hombre or guy.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 May 2018 05:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  862
Joined  2007-06-20

In the UK one used to hear the request ‘Play the white man’’, meaning ‘Please act decently/do me a favour’. It is an expression that seems to have now vanished, I am pleased to say.

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ April Fool      make up/invent/write down ››