---Alice Abrams

Sunday, August 05, 2007


I just got back from visiting Claire at "A Little Piece of Me." I treasure my friendship with Claire but being a Brit, she uses some unique phrases that leave me bumfuzzled, such as relating that she is "cream crackered." I found a neat blog by a Brit who does his best to explain some of the "Britishisms" for us dunderheaded Americans. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Oh, by the way, we're taking up a collection to send Claire to Podunk for a week so she can learn some real doosies!

Michael Quinion writes on international English from a British viewpoint
[Q] From Mark Alfson, Florida: “I’m having trouble with a Brit expression that I haven’t been able to find a translation for: cream crackered. I have a feeling I know what it means, something like ‘tired, beaten, or broken’. Is that right?”
[A] Yes, it is.
Can I assume you know what cream crackers literally are? Sometimes I have trouble knowing which comestibles are known in the USA and which not. A cream cracker is a savoury dry biscuit, often eaten with cheese. Sometime in the past thirty years or so the phrase has become rhyming slang in Britain for knackered. That’s a slightly older slang term — there are examples going back into the 1950s — which means exhausted or worn out. It can also mean some piece of equipment which is damaged or broken. Both senses are common.
Where it comes from is not entirely certain. A knacker from the sixteenth century on was a harness maker or saddler. The word just might have come from knack, a trinket (which we still have, but only as one half of the reduplicated knick-knack), because the knacker originally only made the small bits of harness. Another sense from the beginning of the nineteenth century was for a person who bought old or worn-out horses and slaughtered them for their meat, hides and hoofs. He worked from a knacker’s yard. A possible link with the modern slang sense is obvious enough: if you’re knackered you’re fit only for the knacker’s yard.
But there’s another slang sense of knackers, for the testicles, which grew up a little later, possibly also from knack, but possibly from yet another sense of knacker, that of castanets (which could be an altered form of knockers, but might come from an obsolete sense of knack, to knock or to make a sharp, abrupt noise). To knacker, therefore, is to castrate.
Modern dictionaries are cautious about whether knackered has its origin in the horse-slaughterer sense or the castration one. However, British men often use it in such a way that they take it to mean the latter, even if that isn’t actually where it came from.
After all that, I’m cream-crackered ...


Claire said...

Hey Hey! what the heck is bumfuzzled?
I 'aven't got the foggiest Scooby Doo matey"

Knackered also means sexual exhaustion! but i was honest to god hiking :)

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

bumfuzzled= confused.

red, get it right you little crackerhead!

smiles, bee

Sarge Charlie said...

ain't you got no school housing, anybody knows bumfuzzled, smile maty

RUTH said...

LOL......from one who is knackered most of the time!
Re; Claires comment...Knackered also means sexual exhaustion! but i was honest to god hiking :)....this from a girl whose done a Liars post for manic Monday..Hmmmmmm

Claire said...

Eh! Don't get your knickers in a twist over this!

Mo and The Purries said...

Don't forget: Claire also taught us that "trump" is brit-speak for "fart"

Oh, and remind me not to play Bridge with Meloncutter....

Alison said...

Cream Crackered is an easy one. Try finding a good whistle ;-)

You'll have to invest in a good cockney rhyming slang dictionary!

Travis Cody said...

Thanks Gracie! I kinda figured that's what it meant based on the context.

Maggie Moo said...

Isn't it funny how Claire always uses hiking as the reason she's knackered?



Claire said...

Very funny! :(

Crazy Working Mom said...

Bwahahahahaha...too funny, girls!