: [Fwd: Bullying, DWJ, and Harry Potter...], also fat and lit

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 26 17:20:38 EST 2003

--- Charles Butler
<hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk> wrote:
> > I doubt if bottom is maratime in origin, it
> strikes me
> > as a bit like "pointy end" a term that is only
> used by
> > landlubbers, which a true sailor would never use.
> It does sound like that - sailors being so apt to
> confuse matters wherever
> possible by bringing in special vocabulary for
> perfectly ordinary things
> like kitchens, left, right, downstairs, etc. But I
> can assure you that
> 'bottom' really is the word for the bottom of a
> boat. Looks like they missed
> a trick there.

Thinking about "more bottom than science" a bit more,
it occured to me that this expression is very similar
to "more arse than class" and the use of the word
"arse" to mean insolence (apropriate when you consider
both involve "cheek"). I've always suspected that
Shakespeare was deliberately playing on words in MSND
- bottom=ass=arse but the OED gives the first use of
bottom meaning arse as 1794, a date which also
suggests that if Heyer is accurate in her use of the
word then that possibly wasn't what was intended in
the regency era, as the term was just coming into use.
Its maratime use dates from at least 1522 so Charles
may well be on the right track.


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