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Pool shark

Posted by ESC on July 30, 2005

In Reply to: 'off the wall' posted by Millar on July 30, 2005

: In the archives, there is a question about what 'off the wall' means in a billiards related setting. It is incorrectly explained as 'crazy or unpredictable'. In actuality, in this case, off the wall is a term used to describe playing pool with a cue made available by the club or bar in which you are playing. The cues are usually found on cue racks, located on the walls around the tables. These cues are also usually of inferior quality to a pool players' personal cue and so in the movie described, the player saying he would not play off the wall except with friends, was refusing to play with the inferior cue being offered to him.

: Now with that cleared up, can anyone explain the etymology of the term "pool shark".

Merriam-Webster says:

Main Entry: 2shark
Function: noun
Etymology: probably modification of German Schurke scoundrel
1 : a rapacious crafty person who preys upon others through usury, extortion, or trickery
2 : one who excels greatly especially in a particular field

But there may be more to it than that. I will look in my references.

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