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  #1  
Old 12-04-2018, 12:08 PM
Joshua Rogan Joshua Rogan is offline
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Default 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?
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Old 12-04-2018, 12:18 PM
rjpalmer rjpalmer is offline
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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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Old 12-04-2018, 12:19 PM
Darryl Kenyon Darryl Kenyon is offline
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Quote:
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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Old 12-04-2018, 12:21 PM
Sam Flynn Sam Flynn is offline
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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".
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Old 12-04-2018, 12:26 PM
Sam Flynn Sam Flynn is offline
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Quote:
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 )
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Last edited by Sam Flynn : 12-04-2018 at 12:28 PM.
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Old 12-04-2018, 12:33 PM
Darryl Kenyon Darryl Kenyon is offline
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Quote:
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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Old 12-04-2018, 12:37 PM
Joshua Rogan Joshua Rogan is offline
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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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Old 12-04-2018, 01:51 PM
Sam Flynn Sam Flynn is offline
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Quote:
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.
Quote:
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
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Old 12-04-2018, 04:14 PM
Joshua Rogan Joshua Rogan is offline
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Quote:
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.

Quote:
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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Old 12-04-2018, 04:50 PM
MrBarnett MrBarnett is offline
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Quote:
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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