Date: Sun, 7 Dec 1997 10:28:06 -0500
From: Peggy Smith dj611[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CLEVELAND.FREENET.EDU
Subject: Welsher (Welcher)
Thanks to all of you who sent me whatever you could find on the etymology of
this phrase. None of the definitions were really what I was looking for,
so while I was out braving our first snowstorm of the year yesterday to begin
my holiday shopping, I stopped at Barnes and Noble to check out what was
available in the reference section. (Closer than the nearest college library)
The Oxford Dictionary of Etymology said that the phrase welsh or welch on a
bet originated in England in the 1850's as racetrack slang and meant to
reneg on a bet. According to Oxford the origin is unknown. The Barnhart
Dictionary of Etymology said pretty much the same thing. The Morris
Dictionary of Words and Phrase Origins said that the origin stems from
the lines of a British nrusery rhyme, "Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a
thief". Apparently, "Taffy" is local slang for a Welshman, and is an
acceptable one, as it is a derivative of David and St. David is the patron
saint of Wales. However, the Welsh people resent being called thieves and
cheats, which is the British stereotype. According to those in Wales, "Welsher"
was (in the 1850's) a British bookie who had overplayed longshots at the track
and couldn't pay his bets off, and so fled across the border to Wales, which
was the boondocks then, to hide out, thus, reneging on bets. He then became
a Welsher or Welshman.
THIS is what I was looking for--- the stereotype implied in the ethnic
reference. I guess I won't use the expression anymore, hey?