Posted by R. Berg on October 07, 2001
In Reply to: A man of parts posted by mortimer on October 07, 2001
: What does the expression "a man of parts" from 50 or a hundred years ago mean?
About the same thing as "a cool dude" from 6 months ago.
From the Oxford Engl. Dict., sense 12 for "part" as a noun:
A personal quality or attribute, natural or acquired, esp. of an intellectual kind (? as a constituent element of one's mind or character, or ? as allotted to one by Providence: cf. "gift," "talent"); almost always in pl. Abilities, capacities, talents. Usually with an adj. expressing excellence; also absol. = high intellectual ability, cleverness, talent. Now archaic, rare in speech.
[Quotations:] "Three things go to the making up of a minister. 1. Natural parts, that he be not a fool. 2. Acquired parts, that he be learned in the languages [etc.]" . "A man of Parts, but a most vile, stinking Whigg" . "At school the son was a steady lad, of good, not brilliant parts" .