Mustache

Discuss word origins and meanings.
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Mustache

Post by BonnieL » Mon Jan 30, 2017 1:47 am

Husband & I were reading Longfellow's The Children's Hour & weren't sure about the meaning of mustache in the line: "Such an old mustache as I am". I googled it but came up empty. My best guess is that it's a 19th century equivalent of "old fart." Am I right?
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Re: Mustache

Post by Bobinwales » Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:15 pm

I can't help you at all there Bonnie. I had never read the poem before. Perhaps it is an American expression.
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Re: Mustache

Post by tony h » Mon Jan 30, 2017 11:33 pm

https://www.commonlit.org/texts/the-children-s-hour

I haven't read this for years. Thank you for reminding me of it. A favoured uncle used to call us blue-eyed banditti.

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!


I have just taken it to be figurative expression of old; a comparison drawn between his adoring blue-eyed children clambering over him and his paternal moustached face. I wouldn't say old fart as the relationship seems loving and, to me, old fart is dismissive and unpleasant. Similar expressions might be: long beard, grey beard, bushy eyebrowed.
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With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: Mustache

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:33 am

I think the legendary fondness of Victorian men for luxuriant facial hair is probably relevant here.

The fondness they felt towards the 'bearded ladies' who posed or performed in fairgrounds and circuses may be less so.
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Re: Mustache

Post by BonnieL » Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:11 pm

tony h wrote:https://www.commonlit.org/texts/the-children-s-hourI wouldn't say old fart as the relationship seems loving and, to me, old fart is dismissive and unpleasant.
It's one of those things that depends on who is saying it, as well as context. Saying it about myself or to my husband, it would be seen as a jokey thing, but if a stranger called me that, I'd be a bit perturbed. And might be more of an Americanism.
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Re: Mustache

Post by trolley » Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:37 pm

I don't take "old fart" to be a derogatory term. It seems harmless and playful. One mustache oneself, "what kind of old fart?" A cranky, greedy, shitty, racist old fart is something entirely different. I think Bonnie has nailed it. It just means an old gaffer, someone a little long in the tooth.
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Re: Mustache

Post by tony h » Tue Jan 31, 2017 8:55 pm

BonnieL wrote:
tony h wrote:https://www.commonlit.org/texts/the-children-s-hourI wouldn't say old fart as the relationship seems loving and, to me, old fart is dismissive and unpleasant.
It's one of those things that depends on who is saying it, as well as context. Saying it about myself or to my husband, it would be seen as a jokey thing, but if a stranger called me that, I'd be a bit perturbed. And might be more of an Americanism.
Would you expect a father to use it with his young children?
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With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: Mustache

Post by BonnieL » Wed Feb 01, 2017 1:16 am

tony h wrote:
BonnieL wrote:
tony h wrote:https://www.commonlit.org/texts/the-children-s-hourI wouldn't say old fart as the relationship seems loving and, to me, old fart is dismissive and unpleasant.
It's one of those things that depends on who is saying it, as well as context. Saying it about myself or to my husband, it would be seen as a jokey thing, but if a stranger called me that, I'd be a bit perturbed. And might be more of an Americanism.
Would you expect a father to use it with his young children?
Oh yeah! I guess it means something different in England. It's pretty harmless here.
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Re: Mustache

Post by Phil White » Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:29 am

BonnieL wrote:Oh yeah! I guess it means something different in England. It's pretty harmless here.
No, I reckon it's fine over here. I regularly use it when talking about politics: "It's time for us old farts to hand over to you youngsters. It's your world now..."
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Non sum felix lepus

Re: Mustache

Post by tony h » Wed Feb 01, 2017 5:18 am

Phil White wrote:
BonnieL wrote:Oh yeah! I guess it means something different in England. It's pretty harmless here.
No, I reckon it's fine over here. I regularly use it when talking about politics: "It's time for us old farts to hand over to you youngsters. It's your world now..."
It is probably just me. I still find it awkward and presumptuous when people call me by my first name. It takes a few decades for such familiarity to acquire a feeling of normality with me.
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With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: Mustache

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Feb 01, 2017 4:49 pm

BonnieL wrote:Oh yeah! I guess it means something different in England. It's pretty harmless here.
And in Wales, Scotland and Ireland Bonnie.
@ . @
. 0 .
\___/
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End of topic.
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