1 of 2
1
A couple of names
Posted: 04 March 2007 01:05 PM   [ Ignore ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  590
Joined  2007-02-22

Who was Alice as in “a slack Alice” and who was Charlie as in “a right (or proper) Charlie”?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 March 2007 03:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2301
Joined  2007-01-30

The Charlie of ‘a right Charlie’ is simply generic. Here’s OED:

6. A fool, simpleton, esp. a proper, right Charley. slang.
1946 Amer. Speech XXI. 238/1 Charlie, one [a soldier] who cannot understand orders and so makes foolish mistakes. 1957 Listener 15 Aug. 252/1 The plebeian engineer was a proper Charlie to let himself be roped in for it. 1961 SIMPSON & GALTON Four Hancock Scripts 15, I felt a right Charlie coming through the customs in this lot.

OED has no entry for ‘slack Alice’ but I’d lay odds this is generic too.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 March 2007 08:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1365
Joined  2007-01-29

duplicated post

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 March 2007 08:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1365
Joined  2007-01-29

The footballer, George Best, opened Slack Alice’s nightclub in Manchester in 1966, but I don’t know where he got the name from.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 March 2007 04:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  710
Joined  2007-02-07
aldiboronti - 04 March 2007 03:28 PM

The Charlie of ‘a right Charlie’ is simply generic. Here’s OED:

6. A fool, simpleton, esp. a proper, right Charley. slang.
1946 Amer. Speech XXI. 238/1 Charlie, one [a soldier] who cannot understand orders and so makes foolish mistakes. 1957 Listener 15 Aug. 252/1 The plebeian engineer was a proper Charlie to let himself be roped in for it. 1961 SIMPSON & GALTON Four Hancock Scripts 15, I felt a right Charlie coming through the customs in this lot.


OED has no entry for ‘slack Alice’ but I’d lay odds this is generic too.

Interesting that it is American yet both published examples appear British. I’ve never head it before and an American would use “real” as an intensifier instead of “right” or “proper.” Charlie to us is a North Vietnamese soldier. Charlie don’t surf!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 March 2007 04:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2301
Joined  2007-01-30

Yes, I wondered at that, happydog. I’ve always thought of it as a quintessentially British phrase. I was also surprised at the number of meanings that Charlie has had over the years, as listed in OED. They include a generic name for a night-watchman, a small triangular beard, a proper name applied to the fox, a woman’s breasts, army slang for an infantryman’s pack, and a white man, in addition to the senses of fool and Vietcong.

One fairly familiar sense OED has omitted is charlie as a slang term for cocaine, which dates at least to the 50s. Heroin was, less commonly, termed henry.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 March 2007 04:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  295
Joined  2007-02-17

I’ve never heard or read ‘henry’ as slang for heroin. It is, however, in general use for an eighth of an ounce, generally of cannabis. The thought process should be obvious.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 March 2007 06:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2301
Joined  2007-01-30

I’ve never heard or read ‘henry’ as slang for heroin.

You had me worrying that I’d misremembered for a moment, but here it is on this quite comprehensive list of Street Names for Opiates.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 March 2007 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  590
Joined  2007-02-22

Coincidentally, I’ve just come across a possible derivation of “Charlie” from cockney rhyming slang:

Charlie = Berk (derivation: Charlie Smirke, a leading English jockey from the 1930’s-50’s = Berk. Berk, from Berkeley Hunt.( from businessballs.com)

(Mind you, I thought that was Berkshire Hunt, and so do quite a few googlits, however, Wikipedia gives Berkeley, but allows Berkshire) Charlie Smirke’s period of fame antedates the earliest OED quotation by a few years, but perhaps not enough for a rhyming slang expression to have passed into mainstream English.  It also depends on how old the expression “berk” is and when it moved from its original meaning to that of fool.

Wikipedia also gives “Charlie Hunt” as the origin of the expression, “Charlie Hunt being a local east end figure of the time this saying was common.” which is not very illuminating.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 March 2007 01:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3420
Joined  2007-01-29

Interesting that it is American

Huh?  Who said it was American?  I’m American, and I’ve never heard or seen it.  Cassell:

charlie n. [1940s+] a fool, esp. in phr. proper charlie, right charlie. [rhy. sl. charlie hunt = cunt n… Given the popularity of the term among otherwise ‘clean’ radio and TV comedians, one must assume their (and their audiences’) ignorance of the ety.]

Since Americans 1) don’t use proper and right as intensifiers, and 2) don’t use rhyming slang, I think it’s quite safe to say American origin is ruled out.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 March 2007 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2783
Joined  2007-01-31

Like LH, I don’t think it’s American.  Perhaps the remark attributing it to us was based on the fact that the first OED citation is from American Speech.  But this is without “right” or “proper” as intensifiers, and being from 1946 and in a military context, I strongly suspect it’s an article about military slang, and that the expression was picked up by Americans in Britain or fighting alongside British troops (assuming that the article is not about British military slang despite the title of the journal).

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 March 2007 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1951
Joined  2007-02-19

"Charley hunt” sounds whoilly spurious to me --- the confection of some wannabe etymologist, perhaps?  it’s completely meaningless, whereas “Berkeley Hunt” is not; and I don’t know when the term “Berk” ---or “Berkeley Hunt” or “Berkshire Hunt” --- took on merely the connotation of “a fool”. I’ve only ever heard it (and I’ve heard it often in my long life, not always addressed to me, let it be noted) meaning “cunt”, and it always meant a great deal more than just “a fool”.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 March 2007 02:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  362
Joined  2007-03-05

Interesting - the first suggestion I’ve ever heard (in day to day usage - rather than research) of ‘berk’ meaning ‘cunt’ - I’d suggest from its popularity that the majority of UK people are unaware of the etymology of the slang.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 March 2007 11:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1951
Joined  2007-02-19

just to dispel any possible ambiguity: when I said that “berk” stands (or once stood) for “cunt”, I meant only when used as an insult, never in the literal sense. i never heard “berk” used in reference to a vulva (what would be the point?). But when used as a term of abuse, “berk” was very much stronger than just “fool”. It implied whole worlds of insult, somewhat like the US “asshole”. BTW, I love your “everyday usage”, flynn999 ;-). tempora mutantur. In my day, we used such expressions sparingly......

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 March 2007 12:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  590
Joined  2007-02-22

I, and many of my contemporaries, were allowed to use “berk” as children by our parents, which I am certain would not have been allowed if they (the parents) had known its derivation.  We used it in the sense of “fool” - “Don’t be such a berk” meant “don’t be so stupid”, not “don’t be so nasty”, which is what “don’t be such a cunt” implies, at least to me.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 March 2007 01:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  362
Joined  2007-03-05

Yes, I meant as the insult not as a noun for vulva. BTW Lionello, when was your day? As you’re still posting, it could be a week last Wednesday!  ;-)

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1
 
‹‹ abrew      As happy as a clam ››