phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: Clem - Blank Look

Posted by TheUnlurker on April 26, 2002

In Reply to: Re: Clem - Blank Look posted by TheFallen on April 25, 2002

: : : : I was recently sent something that said "you are a clem." The person who said it was from England. I was wondering if anyone out there knew what this word means?

: : : I'm not British so I have to rely on my references. There must be another meaning because the following doesn't seem to fit the term as used above. The British among us will have to help out on this one.

: : : CLEMMED -- adj. British. starving, hungry. An old word which is a survival of northern dialect (from Middle English 'clemmen,' to pinch). It is still heard occasionally among older speakers (and, incidentally, in the TV soap opera 'Coronation Street.')" From "The Dictionary of Contemporary Slang" by Tony Thorne (1999, Pantheon Books, New York)

: : : CLEM -- "(U.S. equivalent) starve. As in clemmed for a snack. Dialect, favored by hoboes; common in rustic novels. Its use is considered by some to be chic." From "British English A to Zed" by Norman W. Schur (HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, HarperPerrennial edition, 1991)

: : Klem Kadiddlehopper was a character created by the genius clown Red Skelton.
: : Klem was a very funny but slow-witted character and was part of Mr. Skelton's repertoire including "Gertrude & Heathcliffe" (the cross-eyed sea gulls), the "Mean Widdle Kid" ("I dood it!"), and the inebriated "Cauliflower McPugg" and "Willie Lump-Lump".

: "Clem" is a new one on this Brit, so I'm no help at all. British slang often remains very regional though, and since I'm from the South-East, and given that ESC's reference sources are, I am sure, right in attributing it to the North of England, it's no surprise that I've never heard of it.

Like you (TheFallen) this is new to this Brit. However, I am from Manchester [c.1962] (and Coronation Street is set thereabouts (not that I watch it, absolute trash that it is. )), this couldn't have wide-spread currency else I surely would have noticed.

Abby, do us a favour and ask your acquaintance what they mean by it.