Date: Sun, 17 Mar 1996 00:32:52 -0500


Subject: Re: "smathered"

More on "cobbed". Oddly this scholarly bunch hasn't come up with any

citations yet. Since I just picked up a very nice copy of Partridge's

D. of Slang & Unconventional English (1961) for a song, I looked it up

and found two unscatological meanings which fit. Well, LESS

scatological I suppose!

1. To strike, esp. on the buttocks [there they are!] with

something flat (gen. a hand-saw, says Hotten): nautical (_1769).

Marryat in "The King's Own": 'Gentlemen, gentlemen, if you must cobb

Mrs. Skrimmage, for God's sake let it be over all', i.e. with no

clothes raised. Prob. echoic.

2. Hence, to humbug, deceive; coll., C. 19-20, ob., perhaps

influenced by 'cod'.

That is one of Partridge's more unmotivated "hence"s, isn't it? I

suppose David's grandfather might have meant the second, rather like

"shorn" or "clipped" or "taken". But Dennis's comments seem to reflect

the first one.

I believe the first is old enough to predate the association of

"cob" with "corn" ("corn" meaning "maize" is a New World usage, isn't

it? I think it meant oats, wheat, etc. in the British Isles-- and they

don't have cobs).

One hopes so, for poor Mrs. Skrimmage's sake. (Of course, I

also doubt whether Partridge would TELL us plainly if the meaning was

the one everyone seems to have been assuming...)

--peter patrick