Barkeeper? bar goose? barge? The Late Show has nothing to do with it

Marjie Williams was stunned by Luke in Lukewarm. “Why Luke?” she asked. Who was he and why wasn’t he so hot? The mystery is linked to “lew”, a Middle English term for lukewarm. Lew, in turn, comes from “hleow” in Old English, meaning warm, and the origin of “lee” – or shelter.

There you have it. A conga line from the oddball—Luke, Lew, and Lee—gets warm, warm, warmer, but never quite warm enough. I tied a ribbon around the file and focused on a mystery within a mystery.

David Astle embarks on a wild

David Astle embarks on a wild “Bargoose” hunt for a lost war word meaning “job well done”.Recognition:Yo Gay

“I’m reading an old Gladys Mitchell mystery,” writes Chris Jordan-Clarke. “It’s called printer error, from 1939, in which a servant speaks to the police about a couple’s affair. The couple tries to keep their romance a secret, but of course the servants know everything. In fact, the witness notes that the couple “dallys so badly you get sick of the Babylonians.”

Chris adds, “Now I understand ‘dilly-dallying,’ but the Babylonians?” Sniffing the phrase, I turned to Jonathon Green, the native lexicographer whose online opus (Green’s dictionary of slang) is for all self-made detectives. Below “Babylon” lay this likely clue: “The hedonistic, exciting world of the city contrasted with the quiet of the country.”

Suggestively, the solution to the case lies in the dissolution of the couple, where “Babylonians” embody the sins of the flesh. In Revelations, the whore of Babylon symbolizes the excesses of the empire, from carousing to bed-hopping – the pin-up possibly in the maid’s mind as she lamented the couple’s lukewarm attempt to hide their jiggery poker game.

A red herring: Lucky Grills in The Late Show classic parody, Bargearse.

A red herring: Lucky Grills in The Late Show classic parody, Bargearse.

With the case cracked, I turned to Peter Wilson’s riddle: “Most of my parents’ cohort used the word ‘barguess’ (spelling?) for something really good. I assumed the roots were in the Middle East but can’t find them anywhere.”

Sidney J Barkers The Australian language (Angus & Robertson, 1945) teems with “barcoo spew” (a shearer’s heat exhaustion), “bangotcher” (a cowboy film), and “bushwhacked” (lost), but no “barguess,” or not spelled that way.

Desperately, I tried a few colloquial advisors. One marked the Urban Dictionary, the great lint trap of street English, where “citizen” was entered as someone superior to a non-citizen. A diversionary maneuver by another name. Barkeeper? bar goose? barge? The Late Show has nothing to do with it

Jaclyn Diaz

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