titfer

Pronounced: TIT-fur, noun

Notes: I don’t think I’ve run across this word… it’s another case of rhyming slang (and, unlike the last post, this one is guessable)


Yesterday’s Phrase

A parting shot, as you probably know, is “a threat, insult, sarcastic retort, or the like uttered upon leaving”.

Background / Notes

As I noted yesterday, I knew this phrase, but what I didn’t know is that this is a corruption of the actual phrase: Parthian shot. I’ve run across Parthian shot in reading; I could tell from the context that it was similar in meaning to parting shot (I assumed it had some more specific meaning, but I didn’t look it up). The word goes back to the ancient Parthians, who had a practice of firing missiles backwards while fleeing. More fun: in 53 BC, the Parthian army was the underdog in a fight with the Romans, but won an overwhelming victory, killing the filthy rich general Marcus Lincinius Crassus. His income was 32,000 times the average wage of the day, and he is still one of the richest men who ever lived – in modern terms, he was worth around 170 billion dollars. He made his money in real estate, but unscrupulously: he had his own private fire brigade, but he wouldn’t save a man’s property from fire unless the owner agreed to sell at a deeply discounted price, which Crassus then re-sold at immense profit. His name has not been entirely forgotten: It survives in our word crass (without refinement, delicacy, or sensitivity; gross; obtuse; stupid).

First Usage

The word showed up in the late 1800s

Published by Richard

Christian, lover-of-knowledge, Texan, and other things.

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