Thursday, 4 November 2010

What is a 'shellacking'?

Apparently President Obama was shellacked recently. I must say I have never heard the verb used this metaphorical sense before. Shellac is a type of resin used in varnishing wood and in the creation of old gramophone records. But when the President used the word he apparently intended it to mean "been defeated" or, to use another odd metaphor: "received a pasting".

According to the BBC, this sense of shellac goes back to the 1930s in America: "Its original meaning was 'to beat or thrash' - to give someone a physical beating - and some early citations come from organised crime or gangster slang."

See: BBC News - Who, What, Why: What is a 'shellacking'?

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