[lit-ideas] Re: help with geezer

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2006 22:15:07 -0700


'Geezer' comes from 'guiser,' a 19th C word for mummer. From 'guise' = 'dress,'
or 'costume.' I read British trash novels set in the late 20th and early 21st
centuries, and the word seems to be in use among the lowlife that inhabit them.

A number of Oxford (always reliable!) references say that in the U.S. and
Canada, 'geezer' is used informally _and_ derogatively to refer to an elderly
person, usually male, whereas its use in British English carries no derogative
connotation: it's just 'informal.'

Robert Paul
Reed College

I was puzzling over the provenance and usage of the Brit-English (?) word
"geezer" with some friends yesterday. Is it still in use? To my ear, it
belongs in 'Sixties Pinter, but my sense of it is that it must still be
around - because I can't think of another expression that quite does what it
does. Who (what?) better than this learned assembly to shed light on my
eastern darkness...

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