Posted by James Briggs on November 23, 2004
In Reply to: It's a corker posted by Lotg on November 23, 2004
: I'm pretty sure this is an Aussie saying. It's actually rather an old fashioned one these days. But nonetheless, I used it today when someone told me a joke that just cracked me up - I said, "that's a corker" - which means, that's a ripper, a beauty, excellent, etc.
: This lead to us discussing the origin of the saying. AND lead to us arriving at the realisation that we didn't have a clue.
: Does anyone else?
I think we did have a clue! This is what I gained from the site a while ago. However, it didn't clarify why the word 'corker' was used in this context. Thus, perhaps, we didn't have a clue after all!
In "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, A-G" by J. E. Lighter (Random House, New York, 1994), it says:
"CORKER n. 1. A hard or finishing blow; (hence) (obs.) that which settles an issue.2.a) a stiff drink of liquor.b) a person or a thing of extraordinary size, effectiveness, quality, etc; a remarkable person or thing.c) an attractive young woman; knock-out. 3. Baseball, a fly ball."
Thus it seems that "corker," used as a thing of effectiveness or quality, gave rise to the other uses. First recorded in 1891.