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#120839 - 01/22/04 07:31 PM Civilian  
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I am looking for a slang synonym for "civilian." The word should be one that a Chandler tough might use. 'Civy' refers to clothing, if I'm not mistaken, and is rendered plural, 'civies.' The term can be either 'period' or contemporary. I wouldn't ordinarily be averse to a stretch, in this piece, but I don't think it would work in this particular case. Thanks.


#120840 - 01/22/04 07:40 PM Re: Civilian  
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He was your typical John Doe; blue suit with brown shoes, that deer-in-the-headlights look and a wad of money in his right front pocket just waiting for some dip to go home with.


#120841 - 01/22/04 07:43 PM Re: Civilian  
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Nice to see you back, Insel!

It's "civvies" (two 'v's) usually on this side of the pond ...


#120842 - 01/22/04 08:08 PM Re: Civilian  
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Dear IP: way back in WWII, GI's called civilians "feather merchants" taken from a comic strip of the time. I think it was the same one that had "Snuffy Smith" in it.


#120843 - 01/22/04 09:17 PM Re: Civilian  
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Joe six-pack
One of the Jimmy's


#120844 - 01/23/04 01:35 AM Re: Civilian  
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Mark; schmuck; sucker.


#120845 - 01/23/04 02:31 AM Re: Civilian  
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Faldage: isn’t a “John Doe” just a nobody or an anybody? -- I do like the sentence. Is it yours, or did I forget?

Thanks Capfka. If I ever claim to know (typed 'no') how to spell, slap me.

wwh: I like “feather merchants” but I’m not sure it has the punch I’m looking for.

Musick: “One of the Jimmys” might almost work. Can one just say “a Jimmy”? Is it at all well known?

Jackie: Abound they may, marks schmucks and suckers, but they do it both in the service and out, no?

Thanks all.



#120846 - 01/23/04 03:06 AM Re: Civilian  
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Oh--civvies as opposed to people in the armed forces? (I didn't get the Chandler ref.) And--it has been pointed out to me that schmuck could be very offensive. If it was to anyone, I apologize. I have no acquaintance with Yiddish, really; my associations with the word come from the movie Grumpy Old Men, where it seems to be intended as about the equivalent of "idiot".


#120847 - 01/23/04 03:13 AM Re: Civilian  
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Why the feathers, wwh?


#120848 - 01/23/04 12:13 PM Re: Civilian  
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I took Rock Island's question to be not what a Chandler type character would call a non-military person as opposed to a military one, but what he would call someone outside of the law enforcer/PI vs law breaker world. Just your normal law-abiding citizen. That's where my John Doe submission was coming from. Was I wrong, RI?

And, yes, that sentence was, AFAIK, all mine.


#120849 - 01/23/04 01:36 PM Re: Civilian  
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I'm looking for a word that would to non-military (not non-law enforcement). It is to be spoken by a Chandleresque private eye to a police detective. The PI is speaking of civilians in contrast to a bunch Marines who were killed earlier in the yarn.

***

Jackie: "schmuck" might or might not be offensive. It is most commonly used to mean 'jerk' or 'idiot' (which, I suppose, might also be offensive). Literally, it means 'penis,' and I think it must come from the German, 'Schmuck' (rhymes with 'hook') meaning 'jewelry,' so that it seems to be intended to be humorous in the demeaning humor of my tribe (Ashkenazi Jewery).

There is a joke about a guy who frequently visits New York and gets tired of long waits when he asks for his black Cadillac (dating the joke) from the garage. So, he decides to buy a camel. One day, he goes to the garage and asks for his camel and the attendant returns and tells him the camel has been stolen. When the police ask him whether the camel was male or female, the man replies that he's not sure, but he thinks it must be male. "Why do you think that?" say the police. "Because," says the man, "one day I was riding it down Fifth Avenue and somebody yelled, 'Hey, take a look at the schmuck on that camel."


#120850 - 01/23/04 01:38 PM Re: Schmuck  
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I've heard it's from the Polish, smok (or something like that).


Here's what AHD4 has to say about it:

http://www.bartleby.com/61/84/S0138400.html

BTW, I'm sticking with John Doe, at least until something better comes along. I don't think our Sam Spade is necessarily gonna use a military term unless some point has been made of his having been in recently.

#120851 - 01/23/04 02:03 PM Re: Schmuck  
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The OED quotes a first ref dating only from the 1890s and has less etymology than the AHD entry:

Schmuck


slang.



Also schmock (SmQk), shmock, shmuck. [Yiddish; originally a taboo-word meaning ‘penis’.]
A contemptible or objectionable person, an idiot. Hence "schmucky a., objectionable, obnoxious.

1892 I. Zangwill Childr. of Ghetto II. i. xvi. 45 Becky's private refusal to entertain the addresses of such a Shmuck.



#120852 - 01/23/04 02:16 PM Re: Civilian  
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It is most commonly used to mean 'jerk' or 'idiot' Well, that was my idea: I know that police talk among themselves as though they are superior to the general population, and I expect the military do too. That's why I chose derogatory terms. The only other possibility I can think of for your scenario is "the locals".




#120853 - 01/23/04 03:07 PM Re:Military  
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This is an oblique move (never happened here before HA!)
but may have some interest to a few :
http://www.campvishus.org/Camp2/USMCLingo.html#C
or you can MSN "Military Lingo" and get a page full of references.


#120854 - 01/23/04 03:09 PM Re: shmok  
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There's at least three etymologies. The one you usually see is to connect it with German Schmuck 'ornament, decoration, jewels' (English smock is cognate with the German word); another one is in Kluge, from Slovenian smok 'fool'; and finally an origin in Slavic smok 'snake, dragon' (this is the one that the A-H gives). Of the two Yiddish dictionaries I have, neither Weinreich and Harvaky list the word. (This is weird since Harkavy isn't that squeamish and does list shmue 'cunt' and pots (pl. pets) 'penis; fool.) The vowel is problematic. I've always heard the word pronounced as /Sm@k/ and never /Smuk/, but then pots came into English as /p@ts/, too. shmuts 'dirt, filth' came in as /Smuts/, so I think that the Yiddish word should be shmok. I'm just not sure, but I lean toward the 'snake, dragon' rather than the 'jewels' etymology.


#120855 - 01/23/04 05:24 PM Re: Civilian  
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Law enforcement officers hereabouts frequently refer to non-commissioned (in the police department), non-defendant persons as "citizens." This, oddly, is done without regard to the actual citizenship of the person to whom the term is applied. It carries the sense of not us (cops), not them (defendants/arrestees) but the others (citizens).



#120856 - 01/23/04 05:53 PM Re: shmok  
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Schmuck 'ornament, decoration, jewels' (English smock is cognate with the German word

in the case of the english smock, ornament is definately part of the sense of the word.

now days we think of a smock as something like a lab coat or house dress.. but smocks get there name from smocking (a kind of ornamental embroidery.)

trades of all kinds wore smocks. Yowmen would wear smocks.

a smock is made by taking squares and rectangle of cloth, gathering them, embroidering the gathers with a zigzag stitch (and perhaps ornamental embroidery as well) and joining the peices. the result is a short coat that fits close around the shoulders but has a full body, and -a very elastic yoke and upper sleeve, that would not rip under stress, but would stretch.

smocking is very elastic, and a coat make of smocking would fit comfortable close to the shoulders, and upper arms, (and at the cuffs of the sleeves) but the material would be elastic, allowing for a free range of movement. smocked pockets would have 'snug tops' which would help secure the contents.

workmen would wear smocks as badges of office almost. smocks were a compromise between the tailored clothing of the rich (which wasn't really suitable for work) and the shapeless (often knit) clothing of the very poor. (see the 'garb/habit' of franciscan monks)

some nuns habits had 'plain' smocking (black on black) in the day when nuns all wore traditional habits (Ursulines had smocking on there sleeves, and on the yoke of the dress)


#120857 - 01/23/04 06:04 PM Re: shmok  
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Thanks, Of Troy. It seems to me that European tradesmen still wear smocks. Took a look-see at the German for smock: das Kittel 'gown, overall, pinafore', Arbeitskittel 'smock, overall', Malerkittel '(painter's) smock'. I also like the heavy corduroy work pants that some European laborers wear. (Not a smock, just a free asscociation.)


#120858 - 01/23/04 07:06 PM smock smock smock smock smock  
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.... I just like the way it sounds.

[/hobbes]


#120859 - 01/23/04 07:14 PM Re: smack  
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Smack is damned good, too. (Not heroin, but flavor.) Das schmeckt gut!


#120860 - 01/23/04 07:15 PM Re: shmok  
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The three together do seem to some it up: bangle, snake..and fool.


#120861 - 01/23/04 07:17 PM Re: Civilian  
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"Citizen" might do, FS, if I can place it so it sounds a little coarse.


#120862 - 01/23/04 07:25 PM Re: Civilian  
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Musick... Can one just say “a Jimmy”? Is it at all well known?

It has come to mean exactly that... "a Jimmy".

***********

Here's a quick history.

My best friend's name, who I've known his whole life, is Jimmy. His dad was James, and now his son, James the 4th, has taken over the 'Jimmy' designation.

One of my other close friend's name is James, but he likes to be called Mitch (his middle name), and here's why. He was the youngest brother of three for quite some time as his parents created two sisters afterward, and then finally another brother. The family next door also had a youngest brother named James about the same age. They played together as the grew up together. They were known as 'the Jimmy's'. The joke/saying slowly caught on that anyone's younger brother was a "Jimmy", especially when you'd see someone on the street that kinda looked similar to someone you knew, and he was automatically his younger brother 'Jimmy'. Mitch needed a little *more identity than that when he started high school.

An ex co-worker, surprisingly enough, had a similar reference creep into his language, from what we can tell, out of entirely different circumstances, but in his usage "Jimmy" meant "a regular guy".

And finally, one of my recent "partner's in crime"(so to speak), his name is William James. He insisted on being called William and not Bill, so, quite naturally of course, he became "Jimmy". He calls me "James" (to remind me of his point).

At the place I work, I call people and am called "Jimmy" a number of times a week. It has become a term of comradery. When I'm asked why or what does it mean, I answer you're "one of the guy's" and "part of the team" and that they are "my buddy".

***********

insel - "Well known" is relative, I guess.


#120863 - 01/23/04 07:31 PM Re: Civilian  
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Musick-- I thought you jimmied doors with a jemmy? --jheem uncle, auntie jem


#120864 - 01/23/04 07:39 PM Re: Civilian  
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'Jimmy" sounds a little off for the context. If I ran across it in that sort of story I'd think someone who broke and entered for a living. 'Citizen' might just be it.


#120865 - 01/23/04 08:09 PM Re: Civilian  
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'Citizen' might just be it.

Now, if we could only quickly convert it into a slang term...

********

Maybe with the help of "Just one of" the Jimmys.


#120866 - 01/23/04 08:12 PM Re: Civilian  
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I haven't had a chance to peruse the whole thing, but this might prove to be generally useful:
http://www.miskatonic.org/slang.html


#120867 - 01/23/04 08:40 PM Re: Civilian  
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I have seen both "cit" a slightly demeaning but basically meaning "not one of us" and "4F" originally referring to someone who couldn't pass the army physical but later to any mere civilian. As in "No &#%@^#* 4F is going to tell me I can't dance with his girl."



#120868 - 01/23/04 10:02 PM Re: Civilian  
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'Cit,' '4F,' or Jimmy might do very nicely. I especially like "Jimmy;" this might simply be because a couple of Brooklynites I went to college with liked to say "Oh, Jimmy! Oh, Jimmy! Oh, Jones!" when they were excited -- not to say that's especially witty, just that, for me, there's a bit of nostalgia tied up with it it. 'Jimmy' would need setting up, which is doable. As to 'being at all well known' being relative, Mr. Musick, it needs to be known well enough for most people to follow. ;)


#120869 - 01/23/04 10:05 PM Re: Civilian  
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RE: tsuwm's link

***

Great, thanks -- here's one from there: Gooseberry lay: to steal clothes from a clothesline.


#120870 - 01/24/04 12:19 AM Re: Civilian  
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those ***** on civvy street. Replace the ***** with whatever suits the emotional tone.

Bingley


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#120871 - 01/24/04 04:17 AM Re: Civilian  
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How about Joe blow. We say that here sometimes, intead of saying to "some guy" Eg. Some Joe blow parked left his lights on and his battery died.


#120872 - 01/25/04 01:37 AM Re: Civilian  
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I've heard the 'Joe Blow,' too, a while back--years back.

Also, there used to be a term thrown around that wasn't used correctly in modern context--and it was 'plebe,' which correctly referred to someone in the lower ranks of military school. In the incorrect context I'd heard it used, plebe referred to any old citizen. What's interesting is, if you look at the earlier meaning of plebe, a plebe actually was an ordinary citizen, but that use went out of use and evolved into the military use. I have a vague memory, too, of the plebiscite, but I think that has more to do with the group at large or something related to the group at large.

Anyway, plebe wouldn't do for what you want here, but I thought it would be good to mention it just for the general discussion.


#120873 - 01/25/04 01:40 AM Re: did someone say this already?  
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"average Joe"?



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#120874 - 01/25/04 03:18 AM Re: Civilian  
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A first-year cadet at a military academy is a plebe. One of the common people in Ancient Rome was a plebeian. What, oh what, did the American Standard plumbing fixtures company have in mind when they named one of their most popular models of flush toilet the "plebe"?



#120875 - 01/26/04 03:18 PM Re: Civilian  
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We use the word "pleb" (short for plebeian) to mean an ordinary person, often as an ironic self-descriptor when complaining about some favoured class of people getting special treatment. If I understand you correctly, this is not in general use where you are?

The opposite to plebeian is patrician, so I guess the opposite of a pleb is a pat.


#120876 - 01/26/04 03:24 PM Re: Civilian  
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The ancient Greek term was idiot, was it not?


#120877 - 01/27/04 12:21 AM Re: Civilian  
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My two cents...
William Burroughs used the term "citizen" to great effect to denote average, law-abiding folk outside of his characters' demi-monde of thieves, junkies and losers. I always read the word as being somewhat demeaning, as if the "citizens" were less hip than his main characters.
If I remember correctly, Jim Thompson may have used "citizen" in the same manner.
Also, as I write this, the term "gen pop" (for general population) comes to mind as well... don't know if that helps at all.


#120878 - 01/27/04 12:50 AM Re: Civilian  
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Most military people refer to civilians as brown-suiters, as opposed to blue-suiters (AF), green-suiters (Army) and (I assume though I cannot recall having heard the term white-suiters for people in the Navy.

When you work for DoD, as opposed to one of the services, you hear references to purple-suiters, who are military members who are interchangeable so to speak. Where I worked we might have a Navy guy replaced by an AF guy replaced by an Army member. The positions were purple-suiter positions.



TEd
#120879 - 01/27/04 10:27 AM Re: ROTK  
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TEd, assume the position.



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#120880 - 01/27/04 01:31 PM Re: Civilian  
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Isn't plebe also a term they use at West Point military academy for lower classmen?


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