bum steer

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bum steer

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Oct 11, 2004 4:05 am

What if the driver of a truck carrying castrated bulls through a town was given the wrong directions, manoeuvred violently to get back on the right road, and the rear end of one of the animals struck a wobbling cyclist when it was flung off the truck? That would make it not just a triple but a quadruped bum steer.
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bum steer

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Oct 11, 2004 4:20 am

Couldn't a bum steer also be a castrated bull with a really large, disproportionately sized posterior or a castrated bull who doesn't work for a living, but is an alcoholic and merely panhandles for a livelihood?

Sam 09/11/03
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bum steer

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Oct 11, 2004 4:34 am

Sorry people for the preceding. Fucked up again.
Sam 09/11/03
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Re: bum steer

Post by JoeAllen » Sat Nov 21, 2009 6:30 pm

Paula de Plume,

Or should I say "Cruella de Vil" ... ???

You are giving us Texians a Bad Name ... . Did you grow up in Dime Box or somethin' .... ???

"BUM STEER" has only one meaning in the Nation of Texas, and I am NOT giving y'all a BUM STEER ... !!!!

BUM STEER = BAD ADVICE ... .

Besides, ALL Steers are castrated, so a "Castrated Steer" is redundancy ... .

Now, go and SIN no more ... .
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Re: bum steer

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Nov 22, 2009 1:51 am

Beware the five-year bitch!
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Re: bum steer

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:01 am

Joe, Welcome and thanks for your Texas input and also for attempting to steer Paula in the right direction (however, I’m afraid she might be in another galaxy by now).

I was curious about your reference to ‘Dime Box,’ which I took from the context to mean a very small and out-of-the-know Texas town.
JoeAllen wrote:Did you grow up in Dime Box or somethin' .... ???
And, for the non-Texans with inquiring minds, I found the following in my nifty little Texas Dictionary:

THIS DOG’LL REALLY HUNT: AN ENTERTAINING AND INFORMATIVE TEXAS DICTIONARY (1999) by Wallace O. Chariton

Dime Box (Lee County): founded long before they got a post office, which meant mail service was poor at best. To send a letter, residents would put the stamped envelope and a dime in a box outside Joseph S. Brown’s office down at the mill. Once a week the letters were collected and delivered to Giddings to be mailed, and the person who made the trip kept the dimes as payment for his troubles.
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I also found the following on Dime Box here:

There's an Old and a New Dime Box. The name comes from the practice of leaving a dime in a box at Brown's Mill to get a letter delivered to Giddings. This was before a Federal Post Office opened in 1877. . . . The PO opened under the name Brown's Mill or a variation thereof, and in short order a lot of mail was misdirected to Brownsville. The postal people were livid. They had a reputation for refusing names that could be confusing with existing post offices, but this one got right by them. Ordered to change the name, the townsfolk submitted Dime Box and it was accepted.
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When I was growing up in New York City we used to use Podunk similarly for a small, unimportant, insignificant, remote, and backward town. But we just used it as a generic name and never thought of it as being a real place. But, in checking, I found that there was/is a small village in New York State of that name and that in colonial times ‘Podunk’ was the “name given to a number of meadows, ponds, and streams in southern New England and New York, apparently from an Algonquian place name meaning ‘marshy place” (Dictionary of American Regional English). I just checked a few standard dictionaries and Podunk appeared in all of them, so I guess it was/is not just used in my former neck of the woods (New York is not far from New England), although The Facts on File Dictionary of American Regionalisms lists it under ‘Yankee Talk’ (language peculiar to New England).

Interestingly, I (we) used to use the common NYC expression ‘Oskosh’ to mean a ‘relatively’ far-off, out-of-the-way, or difficult-to-get-there-from-here place, before I ever knew that a real Oskosh actually existed: “‘So where is this movie playing?’ ‘Oh, it's out in Oshkosh. I’d rather see something closer.’”

If other folks in other locales have their own ‘Dime Box,’ ‘Podunk,’ or ‘Oskosh,’ feel free to share it with us.
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Ken G – November 21, 2009
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Re: bum steer

Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:57 am

Getting back to BUM STEER, I noticed in reading over my 2003 posting that there were somewhat conflicting dates for its first appearance in print and I thought I would go back and give this another look – must be the six-year itch!

It is interesting to note that in my above 2003 posting I referred to the 1998 edition of Jonathon Green’s Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang in which he dated BUM STEER from the ‘1920s.’ However, in checking the dating in the 2005, 2nd edition, I noticed that he now dated it from the ‘20th century.’ Hmm. I’m guessing he did that because in reviewing the subject he noticed that some sources had dated it earlier and he figured that the 1920s date might not be firm – there are, after all, only 87,500 entries in the 2nd edition, so he had plenty of time to meditate on this particular one (I’m forever amazed at how he completed this gargantuan task of such high quality in less than one lifetime).

A slight quibble I have with the Cassell’s derivation, however, is that in both editions he gives the origin as being from bum, the Standard English adjective meaning ‘bad’ + Standard English ‘steer.’ But there are two Standard English possibilities here for the noun ‘steer’: 1) A piece of advice. 2) The castrated male bovine. Which leaves up in the air which one it is – they both seem to make sense. However, by all accounts #1 seems to be the correct choice – see 2003 posting + Historical Dictionary of American Slang unambiguously notes that ‘steer’ is the noun ‘advice.’ But how they could determine this for certain, I don’t know.

In checking through several sources, I found the following on the dating question:

Both the Oxford English Dictionary (1989) and the Historical Dictionary of American Slang (1994) provided the 1924 quote from Henderson’s criminal slang book Keys to Crookdom: “Bum steer—poor advice” (Note: It is possible that believing the source was criminal slang may have had some influence on the idea that the ‘steer’ in question was ‘advice’ and not a ‘bovine). And these two heavy hitters (OED and HDAS) were undoubtedly the dating source for such reputable volumes as American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms (1997), Oxford Dictionary of Slang (1998), . . . and for the disreputable volume the New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (2006).

But other respected sources dated it earlier. Stuart Flexner first had it from circa 1925 in the Dictionary of American Slang (1975, coauthored with H. Wentworth). He then went on to date it from 1903 in his I Hear America Talking (1976). He later changed his mind a bit and moved it forward to 1912 in his Listening to American (1982).

Christen Ammer (also author of the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms), however boldly went where no man had gone before and dated it from the 1890s in her Facts on File Dictionary of Clichés (2001). Unfortunately, she didn’t provide a quote to back up her claim.

In view of all this uncertainty in the dating, I decided to do my own search to see what I could see, and I came up with the following early quotes with my oldest being from 1899, predating the OED by 25 years (they haven't yet updated this one) and the Historical Dictionary of American Slang (they're still working on P to Z) by 15 years. Cha, cha, cha! Of course, internet power has brought us a long way since 1989 and 1994 and all that was required for me to do was a bit of keyboard pushing:
<1899 “He was ‘confidential’ to all who gave an ear, and when Northwestern officials were confronted with one of the tales and shake of the head the enquiring citizen thought the official was giving them a ‘bum steer . . .”—Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette (Iowa), 21 November, page 8>

<1900 “I had imagined he had croaked long ago, but it was a bum steer I got on him.”—Des Moines Leader (Iowa), 18 October, page 7>

<1901 “The efforts to apprehend ‘Yank’ Hawkins are not succeeding and it is now claimed that the deputy sheriffs have been given the ‘bum steer’ all along and the chances of ever getting Hawkins in custody are now extremely small.”—Des Moines Capital (Iowa), 17 April, page 6>

<1902 “Mr. Alpin has an expansive smile and a surplus of avoirdupois, which might recommend him in packing house circles, but the folks in Kansas gave him a bum steer when they told him he was a baseball pitcher.”—Lincoln Evening News (Nebraska), 2 May, page 4>

<1903 “But any man that's got as much brains as a rabbit knows that's a bum steer.”—The Public (Chicago) by L. F. Post, No. 237 of Issues 210-261, 7 March, page 764>

<1903 “The Evil Influence of Slang: Your Uncle Slush never hands out a bum steer and this one is straight from the paddock [[reference to the bovine]]. Never use slang.”—Chicago Tribune, 29 November, page B2> [[author’s tongue-in-cheek article warning young boys of the evils of slang while himself using it in almost every sentence]]
Ken G – November 22, 2009
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Re: bum steer

Post by trolley » Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:59 pm

While I’m sure it’s just a coinkydink, it’s interesting that there is some common ground between a bum steer and a bum (bum’s)rush. I always understood the “bum’s rush” to be getting rid of someone, seeing them out, sending them off. I imagine that it came from the idea of bouncing vagrants out of bars. Escorting someone out of an establishment or showing them the door could be called a bum steer (steering them towards the exit). Getting rid of someone by giving them bad directions to somewhere else could be a bum rush and a bum steer.
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Re: bum steer

Post by Shelley » Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:45 pm

Erik_Kowal wrote:Beware the five-year bitch!
Erik, I know my appearances have been few and far between lately, but there's no need to be rude. ;^)

P.S. I love Dime Box for Podunk! That is really different . . .
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