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Yellow hammer

Posted by Jim Loftus on February 23, 2009 at 10:15

While growing up in the Midwest (central Illinois) I heard adults use the words "yellow hammer" to describe an unlikeable person, but I was (and still am) ignorant of the origin or exact meaning. I remember it was used in a context both economic - yellow hammers were poverty stricken - and implying social status - yellow hammers were "white trash" in the social pecking order - but it also could be used as a substitute for "idiot" or, in the Midwest flavor, a "dumb shit." I have no clue as to the reference of the color yellow, or the use of the tool imagery in "hammer."