October 11, 2003

30 Days to a More Bowdlerized Vocabulary

Diana Rigg, introducing tonight's Inspector Lynley Mysteries episode, described the stormy personal relationship between the Inspector and sidekick Sgt. Barbara Havers, mentioning that she will occasionally even go so far as to call him a ponce. Which, she explains, "is a British slang expression meaning 'upper class twit'".

Posted by Dr. Frank at October 11, 2003 06:30 AM | TrackBack

Your ponce link didn't work. Are we to understand that this is not the meaning of "ponce"? This site


certainly seems to indicate that "ponce" was used correctly. (It has multiple meanings, apparently.)

Posted by: Angie Schultz at October 11, 2003 03:09 PM

Oops, how embarrassing about the link. Yeah, it means "upper class twit" like gay means "happy." I'm pretty sure most Brits recognize the word "ponce" as a derogatory term for homosexual. Hearing Diana Rigg's definition induced a fit of giggling in my British wife. It sure seems like PBS/Mystery was trying to protect their sophisticated viewers from an unpleasant politically incorrect moment.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at October 11, 2003 04:28 PM

dear dr. frank,

this has nothing to do with your blog, and i am aware that it is terribly rude to post non sequiturs. however, last night some girl tried to convince me that her friend wrote "even hitler had a girlfriend" and sold it to you. now, i know this is not true. i just figured i would alert you to this slander.

Posted by: alexander seabury at October 11, 2003 06:34 PM

Alexander, for better or worse, I doubt anyone else could have written that particular song. (Though I see some potential for interesting disinformation to plant in this or that otherwise boring interview: "that song was written by this guy named Darren. The first time I heard it, I knew I had to have it and offered him a hundred thousand dollars on the spot, on the condition that he never reveal the secret...") However, the least plausible part of your friend's story is the notion that I would have paid anyone any money for a song. I'm a total cheapskate, and I've got a huge stockpile of pretty good songs to chose from for free.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at October 11, 2003 09:33 PM

Dr. Frank was going to pay me $1,000,000 for the right to include my Girl Scout song on "Our Bodies, Ourselves". However, he only came up with a dime and three nickels, so I had to leave the audio down real low.

Posted by: Kevin Army at October 12, 2003 06:25 AM

Inspector Linley is the man with blatantly dyed dark hair with the side-kick bug-faced lady, isn't he? I would personally use the term 'ponce' to imply that i find someone to be a little arrogant, of overly-upper class manner and somewhat of a poser. That's the impression I get of Linley when watching the programme. However the term appears to have evolved, unbeknown to Diana Rigg and I.

Posted by: Georgina at October 13, 2003 01:46 PM

I thought `ponce' meant `pimp'.

Posted by: Anton Sherwood at October 14, 2003 06:05 AM

Anton, FYI

There are several definitions of the word, mostly changed from pimp, which seems to be it's original meaning. Used in this sense, it's more like "freeloading", as in "poncing off" somebody.

It's more common, modified usage is indeed as either an effeminate male, or an ostentatious male.

Posted by: John Perry at October 18, 2003 02:31 PM