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A broken down masher

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  • A broken down masher

    In the trial of suspect Charles Ludwig, a witness describes him (as reported by the Telegraph 19 Sept);

    "the man was well dressed; he had on a frock coat and tall hat, and altogether looked what I should call 'a broken down masher."

    Is anyone familiar with this phrase?

  • #2
    It was a parody of a popular music hall song "The Masher King." Dates to 1887.

    https://monologues.co.uk/musichall/S...own-Masher.htm

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Joshua Rogan View Post
      In the trial of suspect Charles Ludwig, a witness describes him (as reported by the Telegraph 19 Sept);

      "the man was well dressed; he had on a frock coat and tall hat, and altogether looked what I should call 'a broken down masher."

      Is anyone familiar with this phrase?
      In the O.E.D first edition [1884], A masher is described thus - “a fop of affected manners and exaggerated style of dress who frequented music-halls and fashionable promenades and who posed as a ‘lady-killer’ ”,
      This fits in with the top hat and frock coat.
      So probably a broken down one would be one who had seen better days.

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      • #4
        According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a masher was "a fop of affected manners and exaggerated style of dress who frequented music-halls"

        A footnote/comment in the OED goes on to say that "the word was common in 1882 and for a few years after".
        Kind regards, Sam Flynn

        "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Darryl Kenyon View Post
          In the O.E.D first edition [1884], A masher is described thus...
          Just beat me to it, Darryl. I have the 2009 version of the OED, but the defnition's broadly the same (I left out the "lady-killer" bit in case it caused confusion )
          Last edited by Sam Flynn; 12-04-2018, 12:28 PM.
          Kind regards, Sam Flynn

          "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
            (I left out the "lady-killer" bit in case it caused confusion )
            I take your point Sam. That part of the explanation went completely over my head

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            • #7
              Wow, quick work chaps, thanks!

              So a masher is another term for a swell, and a broken down one had fallen on hard times?
              Could it be another way of saying "shabby genteel"?


              PS a would-be ladykiller sounds spot on!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Joshua Rogan View Post
                a broken down one [masher] had fallen on hard times? Could it be another way of saying "shabby genteel"?
                Interesting idea, but I wouldn't think so. A shabby-genteel would be a poor, scruffy person trying to look decent and respectable, whereas a masher was a fop or a dandy - i.e. someone who tarted themselves up way beyond how normal decent, respectable people would look.
                PS a would-be ladykiller sounds spot on!
                I hope that "lady-killer" in this context means a lady's man or charmer, not a slayer of unfortunates
                Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
                  Interesting idea, but I wouldn't think so. A shabby-genteel would be a poor, scruffy person trying to look decent and respectable, whereas a masher was a fop or a dandy - i.e. someone who tarted themselves up way beyond how normal decent, respectable people would look.
                  That's odd. I've always thought that shabby genteel described someone who had once been well to do but was now in reduced circumstances. But I suppose it could work either way.

                  I hope that "lady-killer" in this context means a lady's man or charmer, not a slayer of unfortunates
                  Well, he did pull a knife on one...
                  Incidentally, the knife was variously described as a long-bladed knife, a big knife, a penknife, an ordinary clasp knife. I can't remember what thread that might be relevant to, but I guess a knife might look bigger if you're facing the pointy end.

                  Also, am I right in thinking that the unfortunate attacked by Ludwig was the same One-Armed Liz who mis-identified the body of Stride as Annie Morris a couple of weeks later?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Joshua Rogan View Post
                    That's odd. I've always thought that shabby genteel described someone who had once been well to do but was now in reduced circumstances. But I suppose it could work either way.
                    Of course you’re right, Joshua.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Joshua Rogan View Post
                      That's odd. I've always thought that shabby genteel described someone who had once been well to do but was now in reduced circumstances. But I suppose it could work either way.
                      I suppose it could, but I was going by the OED definition of "shabby genteel", and the distinction between genteel and outright foppery.
                      Well, he did pull a knife on one...
                      Ludwig did, but I was referring to the definition of masher, which uses "lady killer" in the metaphorical sense of "ladies' man".
                      Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                      "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

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                      • #12
                        I was just enjoying an old episode of University Challenge when a question about mashers came up, which led me to find this site;

                        https://www.google.com/amp/s/deborah...he-velvet/amp/

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                        • #13
                          The Free Dictionary adds an interesting definition in this context:

                          https://www.thefreedictionary.com/masher
                          "It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins twisting facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (as Sherlock Holmes).

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bridewell View Post
                            The Free Dictionary adds an interesting definition in this context:

                            https://www.thefreedictionary.com/masher
                            Thanks for the link, Bridewell, but the citation appears to point to the "American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition". No date is given as to when it was first used in this sense, and I don't know if the word would have been thus used in 19th century England. Or 19th century America for that matter.
                            Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                            "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
                              Thanks for the link, Bridewell, but the citation appears to point to the "American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition". No date is given as to when it was first used in this sense, and I don't know if the word would have been thus used in 19th century England. Or 19th century America for that matter.
                              That's a fair point but I still think that, given the theme of Casebook, it's an interesting definition, however recent it may be.
                              "It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins twisting facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (as Sherlock Holmes).

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