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ETpro's avatar

What’s a snollygoster?

Asked by ETpro (34145 points ) August 18th, 2012

Just perhaps, you already know and can just rattle off the answer. If not, you could always look it up, or for a more fun way to find out, listen to this brief TED Talk by Mark Forsyth.

Who knew that balls of brass should be balls of Brass—it’s not about a metal? And who knew that President of the USA was meant by the First Congress to be a demeaning title? And how long till snollygosters learn that reality trumps duplicitous rhetoric every time?

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8 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Something you put into galligaskins.

Jeruba's avatar

I remember reading (roughly 50 years ago) in a book by Willard Espy that this term is a corruption of “schnelle Gaster”—or something very close to that—meaning “fast ghost.” (If I cheat and look it up, I’ll get the spelling right.) It’s some kind of a mythical spook from folklore—Pennsylvania Dutch, perhaps?—that flies through the air.

Did I retrieve this bit of absolute trivia correctly?

Meanwhile, very little that I studied in trigonometry or chemistry that year survived in memory past the end of the year.

gailcalled's avatar

@Jeruba: You have forgotten that sine equals opposite over hypotenuse?

Symbeline's avatar

@Jeruba In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, someone says in German, denn die todten reiten schnell to John Harker, which is supposed to mean ’‘for the dead ride/travel fast’’. Erm, I guess schnelle must mean fast.

@ETpro ’‘reads your details’’ wat
Maybe it’s a term for a coaster that somebody sneezed all their mucus on. I don’t know what I’m basing that on.

ETpro's avatar

@gailcalled While it might happen occasionally, I don’t think submarines feature into the correct definition very well.

@Jeruba Not the same meaning, but it’s possible they both hark back to the same root if the definition was supplied by someone convinced that ghosts of any speed are pure hokum.

@gailcalled I had even forgotten that hypotenuses had opposites. I always thought they has two congruent sides.

@Symbeline Aside brom the word “snollygoster” being mostly dead in the English Language of today, this has absolutely nothing to do with ghosts, the dead, the undead or vampires.

Symbeline's avatar

Did I say it did?

Jeruba's avatar

Ok, now I’m looking.
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So, @ETprothis isn’t your word? I think my answer scores.

ETpro's avatar

@Symbeline No, you didn’t. I was playing off your response to @Jeruba.

@Jeruba Here’s a better definition than THe WIkitionary gives. It’s of British origin, not American.

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