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Old buffer redux

A few clarifications, following up on yesterday's poll.

"Lord X was an old buffer."

This is an ambiguous statement.
8(40.0%)
The author clearly means Lord X was a clownish or mocked old man.
7(35.0%)
The author clearly means Lord X was an old petty officer.
0(0.0%)
Other, to be explained in a comment.
5(25.0%)

What is the difference between an old duffer and an old buffer, with respect to human beings? (the_alchemist asked, I'd love to know too.)



Also on the subject of language recently: C wasn't familiar with the phrase "to phone in a performance". major_clanger assures me it's an Americanism.

I'd never encountered "the subject in hand" before, only "the subject at hand"; yet, from online discussions, the former is apparently much more widespread and more multinational than the latter.

Comments

communicator
Dec. 22nd, 2011 10:28 pm (UTC)
I clicked 'other' because I think 'clownish or mocked' is too strong. Calling someone an old buffer might be affectionate if slightly exasperated term. Set in his ways and stubborn about it rather than clownish.
owlfish
Dec. 22nd, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC)
I am so grateful for language clarifications and the constellation of what this phrase might connote. Thank you!
communicator
Dec. 22nd, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC)
I think it's fascinating to try to articulate the meaning of a term I have heard and used so often but never thought about