Discuss word origins and meanings.
Post Reply


Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Oct 15, 2013 7:34 pm

<2011 “‘Let’s call the show Flowers and Submarines, . . .’ ‘Are you joking?’ Pat was not. ‘I’m serious. It’s the angle, Mathew. You need an angle to get attention.’”—Bertie Plays the Blues (2013) by Alexander McCall Smith, page 41>
In the following, definitions (1) seems the best fit for the above quote, and (2) is its nasty relative. They both appear in standard and slang dictionaries. And (1) is a figurative use of the geometrical angle we all know and love:

ANGLE noun

1) (figurative) a) The perspective or aspect from which something is considered, regarded, or presented; one aspect of an event, problem, subject, etc.; a viewpoint, a standpoint. b) a special approach, or technique for accomplishing an objective; a modus operandi, a method or scheme; in Journalism: slant; the point of view from which copy is written, especially when the copy is intended to interest a particular audience. <He looked at the problem only from his own angle.> <He was a salesman always looking for an angle.> <He decided to try a new angle.> <The accountant emphasized the tax angle of the leasing arrangement.> <The financial editor added a supplementary article from the investor's angle.>

2) (originally U.S.) Something one does for profit or advantage, especially a workable method of deception, dishonesty, or exploitation; a devious method; an exploitable gimmick; a scheme; an ulterior motive. <That guy never does anything unless there is an angle.> <She's been too friendly lately—what's her angle? [Possibly suggested by the importance of angles in pool, snooker, or pocket billiards.] [[i.e. ‘origin uncertain’]]

3) play the angles (North American): To use every available means to achieve an end. <A second-rate talent can survive only by playing all the angles.>

(Oxford English Dictionary, Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary, Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Chapman’s Dictionary of American Slang, and

The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary, Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, and archived sources:
<1860 “From whatever angle he looked at the facts, from whatever chords he struck the tones, you heard ever the same recurring strain.”—Reminiscences of Rufus Choate by E. G. Parker, viii. page 480>

<1912 “While it is true that they, like the Taft Republicans, favor maintenance of the high protective tariff, yet the problem should be discused [[sic]] from their angle . . .”—New York Times, 24 September>

<1920 “He finally caught the proper angle . . . When in Rome do as the Romans do.”—J. Conway in Variety, 3 December, page 8>

<1921 “I thought I was hep to all the angles.”—J. Conway in Variety, 18 March, page 5>

<1958 “His angle was to sell off tapes and pictures to the dirt magazines.”—The Eighth Circle (1959) by S. Ellin, ii. ix. page 103>

<1979 (film) “I’m always schemin’. Always lookin’ for an angle.”—Survival of Dana by Norwood>

<1990 “I try to have an angle on everything is what my motto is. I try to have an angle. I've done some dark angles to get somewhere, I've used blackmail.”—Life After Line by J. Kearns, v. page 79>

<2004 “By the 1970s he had struck upon a new comedic angle by satirizing famous pieces of art in his cartoons . . .”—Contemporary Authors, 1 January>

<2008 “People around the world are waking up to a new economic reality and asking themselves what impact the economic maelstrom will have on ethical trade, developing nations and consumer conscience. . . With the economic slowdown, many . . . firms have idle time that they might be willing to apply to your ethical trading cause. Pick the ethical angle and flaunt it.”— International Trade Forum, 1 January>

<2013 “The ultimate political insider, his stock in trade has been playing the angles where access and profit intersect.”—Washington Post (D.C.), 13 October>

Ken G – October 14, 2013

Re: angle

Post by Wizard of Oz » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:57 pm

.. speaking of non-mathematical angles have those of you in the upper hemisphere heard or used the expression >>the angle of the dangle ?? ..

WoZ feeling acute
Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Post Reply