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9 (Mostly) Polite Words for the Uncouth

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Where have people’s manners gone? No one likes a cell-yeller or Facebook-oversharer, but complaints about other people’s couth—or lack thereof—are older than elderly Muppets yelling from a balcony. People have different ideas of what’s rude or unmannered, and they’ve been expressing those ideas for centuries. Here’s a bunch of old, out-of-use words for someone who—to use more old-fashioned words—is ungentlemanly or rough-hewn, at least according to the hoity-toity.

1. CLENCHPOOP

Welcome to your new favorite word. Clenchpoop (or clinchpoop) sounds like it describes a person who’s uptight or perhaps constipated—but the dry Oxford English Dictionary definition tells a different tale: “A term of contempt for one considered wanting in gentlemanly breeding.” The etymology is uncertain, but it appears to have something to do with the poop deck of a boat. The similarity to nincompoop is a bonus.

2. KEMPY

This Scottish term, found in print since the 1500s, is a specific type of uncouth person: a roughneck or hooligan. This is a variation of kemp, an older word for a big brawler who might be a professional boxer or wrestler.

3. RABBLEMENT

English is famously redundant, spitting out unnecessary words every day—but unnecessary doesn’t mean without charm. The word rabble should pretty much cover the unwashed masses, but apparently not, because rabblement has been around since the 1500s. This is an old-fashioned word, but it does show up now and again these days. A recent Boston Globe article makes good use of the term, describing a character who “…dresses in Patagonia and dreams of splendiferous, tasteful wealth, reflected in his desire for a house in a gated community to keep the rabblement out.”

4. PEZANTIC

At the risk of sounding pedantic, this word’s spelling conceals its origin: it’s an adjective form of peasant. An OED example from 1613 is soaked in disgust: “To defile my fingers with such a Pezantique Fugitiue, who is ashamed of his Fathers name.”

5. OIK

An oik has been a pezantic fellow since the early 1900s. The origin is uncertain, but there is a related derogatory term for a working-class person: oikman. Here’s a 1917 example from Douglas Goldring’s novel The Fortune: “He might herd with the outcast ‘Oicks’ who went in for ‘cornstalking’ or displayed provincial accents whilst ogling barmaids in George Street saloons.” By the way, cornstalking is a fairly uncouth behavior: a cornstalk is a tall person, and cornstalking implies stretching yourself upwards in an attempt to eavesdrop.

6. STRINGY-BARK

This Australian word originally applied to a type of eucalyptus tree or the bark from that tree, and those uses are found from the early 1800s on. Later, the term stuck to a person who was uncouth in the sense of being a hick, yokel, or hillbilly; presumably, such folks spent nearly as much time amongst trees as Tarzan. As this 1833 use from New South Wales Magazine shows, this word works well as a self-deprecating adjective: “The workmanship of which I beg you will not scrutinize, as I am but, to use a colonial expression, ‘a stringy-bark carpenter.’”

7. PORTERLY

Porterly is derived from porter, a person who schleps luggage, usually at a hotel or airport. So the fact that this word ended up meaning, as the OED defines it, “uncouth, vulgar, rude,” betrays a pretty crappy attitude toward luggage-luggers. That attitude reverse-shines through this 1765 OED example, which drips with contempt: “His Language was as base, foul, and porterly, as ever was heard at Billingsgate.”

8. COCKTAIL

Cocktail is well known as a word for fancy drinks, but it also once meant a person who wasn’t fancy at all. The breeding-centric meanings of this word originated with horseracing: a cocktail was a horse whose parentage was less than thoroughbred. From there, the term spread to people who weren’t from the upper crust of society, but pretended they were. An 1854 use by William Thackeray is almost a definition: “Such a selfish, insolent, coxcomb as that, such a cocktail.”

9. LARRIKIN

This Australian word may be derived from the name Larry, but it doesn’t have a definitive origin. What is known is that a larrikin is a hooligan, particularly a young one. The first known use, from an 1868 letter by H.W. Harper, conveys a timeless attitude toward larrikins: “We are beset with larrikins, who lurk about in the darkness and deliver every sort of attack on the walls and roof with stones and sticks.” 

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8 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 3
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[Warning: There are lots of Stranger Things season two spoilers ahead.]

Stranger Things season two is in the books, and like we all hoped, it turned out to be a worthy follow-up to an addictive debut season. Now, though, we’re left with plenty of questions, mysteries, and theories to chew on as the wait for a third season begins. But for everything we don’t know about what the next year of Stranger Things will bring us (such as an actual release date), there are more than enough things we do know to keep those fan theories coming well into 2018. While the show hasn't been officially greenlit for a third season by Netflix yet, new details have already begun to trickle out. Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things season three so far.

1. THERE WILL BE ANOTHER TIME JUMP.

The third season of Stranger Things won’t pick up right where the second one left off. Like the show experienced between the first two seasons, there will be a time jump between seasons two and three as well. The reason is simple: the child actors are all growing up, and instead of having the kids look noticeably older without explanation for year three, the Duffer Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They're going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can't start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing.”

2. THE IDEA IS TO BE SMALLER IN SCALE.

If the series’s second season was about expanding the Stranger Things mythology, the third season won't go bigger just for the sake of it, with the brothers even going so far as to say that it will be a more intimate story.

“It’s not necessarily going to be bigger in scale,” Matt Duffer said in an interview with IndieWire. “What I am really excited about is giving these characters an interesting journey to go on.”

Ross Duffer did stress, though, that as of early November, season three is basically “… Matt and me working with some writers and figuring out where it’s going to go.”

3. THE MIND FLAYER WILL BE BACK.

The second season ended on a bit of a foreboding note when it was revealed that the Mind Flayer was still in the Upside Down and was seen looming over the Hawkins school as the winter dance was going on. Though we know there will be a time jump at the start of next season, it’s clear that the monster will still have a big presence on the show.

Executive producer Dan Cohen told TV Guide: "There were other ways we could have ended beyond that, but I think that was a very strong, lyrical ending, and it really lets us decide to focus where we ultimately are going to want to go as we dive into Season 3."

What does the Mind Flayer’s presence mean for the new crop of episodes? Well, there will be plenty of fan theories to ponder between now and the season three premiere (whenever that may be).

4. PLENTY OF LEFTOVER SEASON TWO STORYLINES WILL BE IN SEASON THREE.

The Duffer Brothers had a lot of material for the latest season of the show—probably a bit too much. Talking to Vulture, Matt Duffer detailed a few details and plot points that had to be pushed to season three:

"Billy was supposed to have a bigger role. We ended up having so many characters it ended up, in a way, more teed up for season three than anything. There was a whole teen supernatural story line that just got booted because it was just too cluttered, you know? A lot of that’s just getting kicked into season three."

The good news is that he also told the site that this wealth of cut material could make the writing process for the third season much quicker.

5. THERE WILL BE MORE ERICA.

Stranger Things already had a roster of fan-favorite characters heading into season two, but newcomer Erica, Lucas’s little sister, may have overshadowed them all. Played by 11-year-old Priah Ferguson, Erica is equal parts expressive, snarky, and charismatic. And the Duffer Brothers couldn’t agree more, saying that there will be much more Erica next season.

“There will definitely be more Erica in Season 3,” Ross Duffer told Yahoo!. “That is the fun thing about the show—you discover stuff as you’re filming. We were able to integrate more of her in, but not as much you want because the story [was] already going. ‘We got to use more Erica’—that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”

“I thought she’s very GIF-able, if that’s a word,” Matt Duffer added. “She was great.”

6. EXPECT KALI TO RETURN.

The season two episode “The Lost Sister” was a bit of an outlier for the series. It’s a standalone episode that focuses solely on the character Eleven, leaving the central plot and main cast of Hawkins behind. As well-received as Stranger Things season two was, this episode was a near-unanimous miss among fans and critics.

The episode did, however, introduce us to the character of Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), who has the ability to manipulate people’s minds with illusions she creates. Despite the reaction, the Duffers felt the episode was vital to Eleven’s development, and that Kali won’t be forgotten moving forward.

“It feels weird to me that we wouldn’t solve [Kali’s] storyline. I would say chances are very high she comes back,” Matt Duffer said at the Vulture Festival.

7. OTHER "NUMBERS" MIGHT SHOW UP.

We're already well acquainted with Eleven, and season two introduced us to Eight (a.k.a. Kali), and executive producer Shawn Levy heavily hinted to E! that there are probably more Hawkins Laboratory experiments on the horizon.

"I think we've clearly implied there are other numbers, and I can't imagine that the world will only ever know Eleven and Eight," Levy said.

8. THERE MIGHT NOT BE MANY SEASONS LEFT.

Don’t be in too much of a rush to find out everything about the next season of Stranger Things; there might not be many more left. The Duffer Brothers have said in the past that the plan is to do four seasons and end it. However, Levy gave fans a glimmer of hope that things may go on a little while longer—just by a bit, though.

“Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly. “The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”

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Why Do Fruitcakes Last So Long?
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Fruitcake is a shelf-stable food unlike any other. One Ohio family has kept the same fruitcake uneaten (except for periodic taste tests) since it was baked in 1878. In Antarctica, a century-old fruitcake discovered in artifacts left by explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910 expedition remains “almost edible,” according to the researchers who found it. So what is it that makes fruitcake so freakishly hardy?

It comes down to the ingredients. Fruitcake is notoriously dense. Unlike almost any other cake, it’s packed chock-full of already-preserved foods, like dried and candied nuts and fruit. All those dry ingredients don’t give microorganisms enough moisture to reproduce, as Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, explained in 2014. That keeps bacteria from developing on the cake.

Oh, and the booze helps. A good fruitcake involves plenty of alcohol to help it stay shelf-stable for years on end. Immediately after a fruitcake cools, most bakers will wrap it in a cheesecloth soaked in liquor and store it in an airtight container. This keeps mold and yeast from developing on the surface. It also keeps the cake deliciously moist.

In fact, fruitcakes aren’t just capable of surviving unspoiled for months on end; some people contend they’re better that way. Fruitcake fans swear by the aging process, letting their cakes sit for months or even years at a stretch. Like what happens to a wine with age, this allows the tannins in the fruit to mellow, according to the Wisconsin bakery Swiss Colony, which has been selling fruitcakes since the 1960s. As it ages, it becomes even more flavorful, bringing out complex notes that a young fruitcake (or wine) lacks.

If you want your fruitcake to age gracefully, you’ll have to give it a little more hooch every once in a while. If you’re keeping it on the counter in advance of a holiday feast a few weeks away, the King Arthur Flour Company recommends unwrapping it and brushing it with whatever alcohol you’ve chosen (brandy and rum are popular choices) every few days. This is called “feeding” the cake, and should happen every week or so.

The aging process is built into our traditions around fruitcakes. In Great Britain, one wedding tradition calls for the bride and groom to save the top tier of a three-tier fruitcake to eat until the christening of the couple’s first child—presumably at least a year later, if not more.

Though true fruitcake aficionados argue over exactly how long you should be marinating your fruitcake in the fridge, The Spruce says that “it's generally recommended that soaked fruitcake should be consumed within two years.” Which isn't to say that the cake couldn’t last longer, as our century-old Antarctic fruitcake proves. Honestly, it would probably taste OK if you let it sit in brandy for a few days.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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