Thursday, October 30, 2008

Smart Alecs?

I responded to the various comments on the subject of the BBC and comedy and used the term 'smart Alecs' to describe Messrs Ross and Brand.  It struck me as being very much at the heart of what all this is about. People are generally getting a tad fed up with smart Alecs speaking at them from their radio or TV studios. It's an interesting line which people in all walks of life can often cross over and usually it's only after they do that they realise that they have. But where did the term come from.

According to that indispensable reference work, Brewer's Dictionary of Phase and Fable (every home should have one) a smart Alec is. An American term for a bumptious, conceited know-all. The name goes back to at least the 1860s, but no one is quite sure who Alec is. The allusion may be to Aleck Hoag, a notorious pimp, thief and confidence man in New York in the 1840s.

Two things. . .bumptious is an under used word these days and how spot on Brewers are in their description of the two smart Alecs.


jams o donnell said...

Ah I didn't know that. High time to get a copy!

Anonymous said...

A dictionary would be a handy thing for Ross and Brand. They could look up 'decorum'

Anonymous said...

Richard I've just noticed your misspelling of 'arses' at the top of this posting. Please alter immediately!