Date: Sun, 17 Mar 1996 00:32:52 -0500
From: "Peter L. Patrick" PPATRICK[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]GUVAX.ACC.GEORGETOWN.EDU
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...)