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#3340 - 06/06/00 07:39 AM clean his clock
paulb Offline
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Registered: 03/17/00
Posts: 460
Loc: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
I've just read Colm Toibin's The Blackwater lightship (set in contemporary Ireland) and the phrase "I'll clean his/her clock" was used at least twice by the grandmother character. I can work out its meaning from its context, but can anyone throw light on its derivation?


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#3341 - 06/06/00 03:46 PM Re: clean his clock
Rubrick Offline
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Registered: 05/18/00
Posts: 679
Loc: Somewhere outside New York
> I've just read Colm Toibin's The Blackwater lightship (set in contemporary Ireland) and the phrase "I'll clean his/her
clock" was used at least twice by the grandmother character. I can work out its meaning from its context, but can
anyone throw light on its derivation?

Paul, to be honest, I have never heard that phrase before in my life. Colm has certainly trawled the depths of archaic language there. I would guess that Colm's actual grandmother used that term and, at a guess, she would be about 100+ so this is definitely a term from the very early part of this century.

I know Colm (hey, I don't like to name drop but this IS a small island and we all bump into each other from time to time) so I can try to get an explanation off him when I can. In the meantime I will ask someone from the English department - possibly Brendan Kennealy, who's very helpful when it comes to things like this. I'll post what I have tomorrow.

Rubrick


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#3342 - 06/06/00 08:24 PM Re: clean his clock
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10513
Loc: this too shall pass
this is common enough idiom here in the colonies, meaning to beat or defeat decisively... I've no idea how or when it originated -- as a guess, it could be just a combining of two related colloquial usages: to clean up on and to clock (the latter seems to be Irish slang).

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#3343 - 06/07/00 02:45 AM Re: clean his clock
Rubrick Offline
addict

Registered: 05/18/00
Posts: 679
Loc: Somewhere outside New York
> this is common enough idiom here in the colonies, meaning to beat or defeat decisively... I've no idea how or when it
originated -- as a guess, it could be just a combining of two related colloquial usages: to clean up on and to clock (the
latter seems to be Irish slang).

Oh, yes. To 'clock' means to hit or punch derived, I suppose, from the sound of knuckle against jaw combined with the rattle of teeth, but it is widely used in Britain too and I think it originated there. I'll go with that combination theory.


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