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A gentleman and a scholar

Posted by Smokey Stover on September 21, 2008 at 02:29

In Reply to: A gentleman and a scholar posted by RRC on September 20, 2008 at 18:17:

: : : Where did the saying "A gentleman and a scholar" originate from, other than Robert Burns' poem 'Twa Dogs'?

: : It's not really a saying as such. To be born a gentleman is good; to have studied to become a scholar, likewise. To be both a gentleman *and* a scholar was, for centuries, an acknowledged ideal. Wordsworth, for example, speaks of "scholars and gentlemen". (VSD)

: I'd say it is a saying (or at least part of one). People say "You're a scholar and a gentleman" or "You're a gentleman and a scholar" as a form of a complimentary (or ironic) "thank you" and sometimes add something along the lines "and there are very few of us left!" to include themselves in the compliment.

I haven't heard anyone gratuitously add themselves
to the ranks of scholars and gentlemen, but I've had my own problem with the phrase. When I express my appreciation by saying "You're a scholar and a gentleman," very few of the women I say it to seem to regard it as a compliment. (Actually, my problem is that there is no female equivalent for this compliment. "A scholar and a lady" does not seem to hit the mark. I certainly don't wish to say, "Gee, for a woman you're pretty smart.")