Posted by R. Berg on October 24, 2001

In Reply to: Poindexter posted by Deborah on October 24, 2001

: My students are reading The Watsons Go to Birmingham. In it one of the characters is referred to as Poindexter by other students...because he likes to read a lot. As I understand it, it's used to refer to a "brainiac" (as one of my students described it) or a very smart person... maybe a know-it-all?? Where does this term originate and does anyone have a more specific definition or description of it's meaning? Thanks for your help.

I haven't heard it before. Just guessing: Poindexter, as a first name, sounds stiff, formal, aristocratic. A child named Poindexter is expected, by way of stereotyping, to be more scholarly and less popular/athletic/relaxed/fun than his classmates Billy and Joey. Poindexter says "Please" and "Yes, ma'am." He was born with a pencil behind his ear. He wears ironed shirts every day and does not roll up the cuffs. He never chews gum. He will grow up to take a humble post in his father's reputable business firm and then ascend through its ranks. He will be stodgy at forty; in fact, he's stodgy at seven. Of course, some kids manage to beat the stereotypes. For all I know, Poindexter may dump all this at age sixteen and run off with the circus. Way to go, Poindexter!