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Re: It's a corker

Posted by Smokey Stover on November 24, 2004

In Reply to: Re: It's a corker posted by LNEIL 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!
: : As follows:
: : 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.
: []
: From an old bus song I once sang. Sang to a tune
: that I think was from some pop tune from years
: of yore.
: *chorus
: MY GALS A CORKER
: SHES A NEW YORKER
: I BUY HER EVERY THING
: TO KEEP HER IN STYLE
: *
: SHES GOT A HEAD OF HAIR
: JUST LIKE A GRIZZLY BEAR
: THATS WHERE MY MONEY
: GO OH OH,S
: *
: chorus
: *
: SHE'S GOT TWO PAIR OF LIPS
: JUST LIKE POTATOE CHIPS
: THATS WHERE MY MONEY
: GO OH OH,S
: *
: chorus
: *
: continued individually ceative
: lyrics being piped up with.
: *
: A lot of old folk knowledge is still,
: I think, preserved in unpublished,
: tunes like 'bus songs'.
: 2k4nov23tue11:30,lnb

What's a "bus song"? Something you sing on the bus? Anyway, the OED appears to believe (although they don't just come out and say so) that "corker" may have come, by a devious route, from the use of a cork as a stopper.
"2. a. slang. Something that closes a discussion, or puts an end to any matter; a 'settler'; a thing that one cannot get over. Hence, something very striking or astonishing, e.g. a monstrous lie. ...
b. A person or thing of surpassing size or excellence; a stunner; also used ironically. colloq. and dial.
1882 Cornhill Mag. 325 We look over our boat-side and see the big 'corkers' rising up out of the marl and sand in which their roots lie buried. a1889 in Barrère & Leland Dict. Slang s.v., Jake Kilrain is a corker, and ought to have the championship of the world...." SS