Limey

Discuss word origins and meanings.

Limey

Post by trolley » Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:06 pm

After Googlin’ around for gin rickeys, I started to think about the word “Limey”. Is this considered to be offensive? I once asked a friend, who just laughed and asked if I was offended when referred to as a Canuck. I think the difference there is that most Canadians call themselves Canucks. I’m not sure if Brits (or British sailors ) call themselves Limeys. Somehow, I doubt it. Until this morning, I was convinced that the Aussie term “Pom” was derogatory and came from the word pompous. Go figure.
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Re: Limey

Post by Tony Farg » Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:19 pm

I've never called myself a limey, but have always been aware that you lot did. I don't find it offensive in the least...in fact it makes me feel a bit proud of our heritage as survivors of long sea voyages, enabling Britain to rule the waves and the world whilst other sailors died of scurvy.
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Re: Limey

Post by Shelley » Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:03 pm

Guys, a WW search for limey, finds the origin for it here. After reading many of the threads, it does appear to me that "limey" is derogatory, albeit somewhat playful, (if that's possible). A sampling of its use from anonymous posters (from the archives) includes:
Sounds like some kind of typically limey deviousness . . .
Limey rednecks are even incomprehensible to each other.
A term used by limey mafiosi to mean throw the body in the trunk of the car. (for "to boot")
. . . the limey literary piracy.
. . . some game limey nancy boys play.
. . . because he is a limey once removed he does it in his basement.
Granted, these are quotes from WW's wild west past, and things were coarser then, but I think using the name might be a little questionable unless you know your audience pretty well.
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Re: Limey

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:12 am

Shelley wrote: A term used by limey mafiosi to mean throw the body in the trunk of the car. (for "to boot")
.
Where did you find that one Shelley? I would like to read it in context before I say it looks like claptrap. Oops, I just did didn't I?
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Re: Limey

Post by gdwdwrkr » Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:23 am

A tense stream of conscienceness.
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Re: Limey

Post by PhilHunt » Wed Mar 12, 2008 11:41 am

I think I read the origin somewhere recently. I'll have a look tonight.
In the meantime:

limey
1888, Australian, New Zealand, and South African slang for "English immigrant;" U.S. use is attested from 1918, originally "British sailor, British warship," short for lime-juicer (1857), in derisive reference to the British Navy's policy (begun 1795) of issuing lime juice on ships to prevent scurvy among sailors. In Amer.Eng., extended to "any Englishman" by 1925.
"Midway Signs Limey Prof to Dope Yank Talk" ["Chicago Tribune" headline, Oct. 18, 1924]

I think there is probably a distinction between early use of limey as a derisive reference to the navy and its policys as well as the habits that sailors have when they are locked up together for a long time. "...because he is a limey once removed he does it in his basement."
The later expression which is popularly used in South Africa and Australia today obviously has different undertones.

There is an expression in Italian "Il vizio del'inglese". Ie: The English vice. This is basically a reference to homosexual acts because the English historically have a bit of reputation on the continent for this. I think sailors historically have this reputation too so limey may carry that in some contexts.
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Re: Limey

Post by Wizard of Oz » Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:25 pm

.. sorry Shelley wrong again as far as Aussies are concerned .. from the Macquarie Dictionary 4th Edition it is merely listed as colloquial, not listed as derogatory ..
limey Colloquial - noun (plural limeys) 1. a British sailor or ship. 2. an Englishman. - adjective 3. British. [from the prescribed use of lime juice against scurvey in British ships in the 18th century]

lime juicer noun Obsolete Colloquial 1. an English person, especially a recent immigrant. 2. a. a British ship. b. a British sailor. Also, limey
.. if a term is considered naughty then they do say so .. and Ken's pin-up boy has this to say ..
"I, as a Scot," writes Anthony Eaton of London, "may say that Brit is not an ethnic slur, as would be the use of English . . . . The word is usually used as a method of demonstrating affection and seems more commonly used by Australians and Americans than pom or limey ."

Limey (from the lime juice used by English sailors to prevent scurvy) is low-class and insulting unless used with jocular affection. Pom , from "pomegranate" in a rough rhyme with "immigrant," is an Australian derogation of immigrants from England.

Source: On Language; Brits, Tommies, Poms, Limeys & Kippers. WILLIAM SAFIRE, New York Times, January 27, 1991
.. but see that is probably how he sees it as a yank .. oooops an American .. but I must admit that it is a term of endearment that Aussies rarely use these days ..

WoZ of Aus 12/03/08
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Re: Limey

Post by Shelley » Wed Mar 12, 2008 8:57 pm

Ok, I know that names can be playfully derogatory and affectionately insulting. Happens all the time. I don't know why I questioned the possibility of it. I still say that you have to really know who you're talking to, or your context has got to be very clear for it to work. Otherwise, you just get caught up in another misunderstanding.
So. Limey is not "low-class and insulting" if it's said with just the right touch of humor (and served up with gin). I don't actually use it -- more inclined to say "Brit", I guess. The term Yank can be pretty insulting depending upon who's saying it and how. I just saw a play in which a southerner was bemoaning the fact of her brother's marriage to a girl from the north -- every time she said "yankee", you'd think it was the most vile thing on earth.
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Re: Limey

Post by gdwdwrkr » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:37 am

It's not then.
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Re: Limey

Post by Wizard of Oz » Thu Mar 13, 2008 4:40 am

Trolley said:

Until this morning, I was convinced that the Aussie term “Pom” was derogatory and came from the word pompous. Go figure.
.. ok and now that you have been suitably educated, which of the several supposed etymologies did you accept for pom/pommie ??

WoZ in Aus 13/03/08
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Re: Limey

Post by Zyrgle » Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:21 am

Can I suggest that any person wishing to find out anymore about the relationships between Australians and the British read the book titled The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes. This book is an historical account of the transportation system and how Australia was born.
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Re: Limey

Post by Garanhir » Sun Mar 16, 2008 3:59 pm

Hello everyone, I'm new here. I'm delighted to have discovered you; it looks like a lot of fun.

I can recall being taught in 'O' level History (yes, it was a long time ago) that the use of 'limey' by Americans to describe British sailors, and thereafter all the British, was based on a small misunderstanding.
By the time of the American War of Independence the British Navy had taken to issuing lemons (easily available at the time from southern Europe) as a source of vitamins to guard against scurvy. These were often unripe for longer storage, and were mistaken by American observers for the green limes which were more familiar to them.
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Re: Limey

Post by Bobinwales » Sun Mar 16, 2008 4:57 pm

Croeso Garanhir. That makes three of us from this part of a very large world.
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Re: Limey

Post by Tony Farg » Sun Mar 16, 2008 8:42 pm

I'm just fascinated by the nom de plume: garanhir means "long crane (or heron). Why please?
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Re: Limey

Post by Bobinwales » Mon Mar 17, 2008 10:22 am

Gwyddno Granhir was one of our kings .

"Granhir" translates as you say Tony, but is used as "Longshanks". I suspect that our new member is not a short gentleman.
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