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Source Language Term

to shellack

21 replies   


Examples/ definitions with source references
‘To shellack’ someone was a very common household phrase when I was growing up.
(ugs.) tüchtig verhauen
Authorw15 Feb 09, 11:31

to shellac (shellacked, shellacking)


This could have been a useful addition, but unfortunately not only is the sentence absolutely worthless as context, but the infinitive is also misspelled.

The verb follows a regular rule of English spelling; cf.

to picnic (picnicking, picnicked)
#1Authorhm -- us (236141) 15 Feb 09, 22:36
Context/ examples
transitive verb (past and past participle shel·lacked, present participle shel·lack·ing, 3rd person present singular shel·lacs) (past and past participle shel·lacked, present participle shel·lack·ing, 3rd person present singular shel·lacks)
1. apply shellac to something: to coat something with shellac varnish

2. hit somebody repeatedly: to beat somebody repeatedly with hard blows ( slang )

3. defeat somebody easily: to defeat somebody easily or decisively ( slang )

[Mid-17th century. http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/dictio...

shel·lac (s̸hə lak′)


1. refined lac, a resin usually produced in thin, flaky layers or shells and used in making varnish, phonograph records, insulating materials, etc.
2. a thin, usually clear kind of varnish containing this resin and alcohol

Etymology: shel(l) + lac, used as transl. of Fr laque en écailles, lac in fine sheets

transitive verb -·lacked′, -·lack′·ing

1. to apply shellac to; cover or varnish with shellac
2. ☆ Slang
1. to beat
2. to defeat decisively

Webster's New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2005 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

hm, this is "translation correct" and not "new entry" - why so harsh?
#2AuthorQ16 Feb 09, 08:47
Context/ examples
shel·lac also shel·lack (sh-lk)
1. A purified lac in the form of thin yellow or orange flakes, often bleached white and widely used in varnishes, paints, inks, sealants, and formerly in phonograph records.
2. A thin varnish made by dissolving this substance in denatured alcohol, used to finish wood.
3. An old phonograph record containing this substance, typically played at 78 rpm.
1. shel·lacked also shel·lacked, shel·lack·ing also shel·lack·ing, shel·lacs also shel·lacks To coat or finish with shellac.
2. Slang
a. To strike repeatedly and severely; batter.
b. To defeat decisively.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003.
@ hm --us and Q
#3Authorw16 Feb 09, 09:56
Um die ursprüngliche Frage zu beantworten: Ja, "vermöbeln" passt gut. Dass hattest Du doch eigentlich wissen wollen, oder?
#4AuthorVH16 Feb 09, 10:04
@ VH: Du hast Recht.
to give so. a good thrashing
#5Authorw16 Feb 09, 10:11
Context/ examples
"young working-class and middle-class people have suffered a shellacking: the trebling of tuition fees, the attack on benefits, the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance, a slump in income, the housing crisis, cuts to youth services, the lack of secure, well-paid jobs, the rise of unpaid internships, and so on."

Quelle: Owen Jones, "This war of the generations could yet destroy the left", The Guuardian, 18.08.2915

2015-Beispiel für: to shellack s.o.
#6Authorhajoco (913439) 19 Aug 15, 08:32
The Guuardian, 18.08.2915 - Ein Zitat 900 Jahre aus der Zukunft. Ich bin beeindruckt!!! Interessant ist die kleine Vokalverschiebung beim Guuardian. Das wird die Linguisten hier sicherlich interessieren.

2014 war das Wort in den USA recht unbekannt. CNN zumindest meinte, es seinen Zuschauern erklären zu müssen, nachdem Obama anlässlich einer kleinen Wahlschlappe 'to shellac' groß herausbrachte.
#7Authorwor (335727) 19 Aug 15, 08:44
And don't run away with the idea that to shellac [#6: note spelling, see also #1] in this sense is in common use in BE, even though the Guardian is the source here.
#8AuthorSpike BE (535528) 19 Aug 15, 13:16
2014 war das Wort in den USA recht unbekannt. - Woher nimmst du dieses "Wissen," wor? Das Wort war auch letztes Jahr allgemein bekannt, wie auch das Jahr zuvor und in vielen Jahren vorher. Jeder Heimarbeiter oder Bastler kennt es zumindest, und als Gerund ist es auch allgemein ziemlich bekannt. Leider ist es bei den Medien ja so, dass sie immer auf den "kleinsten gemeinsamen Nenner" zielen.
#9Authordude (253248) 19 Aug 15, 16:36
I'm sorry if I was curt in 2009; that may have been one of those times when w started a lot of threads without citing examples and sources as requested, and this time he evidently also didn't bother to check the spelling. Our patience sometimes flagged.

'Shellac' as a verb could still be a useful addition to the dictionary, if it hasn't been added, but I don't see that we have any examples yet of both the literal and figurative senses, or much confirmation, beyond one lone comment, that 'vermöbeln' is a good translation.

Re #7: CNN seems to simplify a lot for cable news viewers, who are perhaps by definition not the demographic who still read newspapers, with bigger words and more nuanced analyses. Also, many people watch CNN around the world who aren't native English speakers. And at the most basic level, they have to fill up 24 hours of air time saying something, even on slow news days -- a little filler sometimes helps. I don't think you need to conclude anything from that about one word.

'To shellac' as a verb might be a little less common now than it once was, but it hasn't disappeared or anything. I would guess it's another one of those verbs used mainly by sportswriters, looking for exciting new ways to say 'won' and 'lost.'

The noun 'a shellacking' might also be useful. I would offer to gather some text examples, but the Uni Leipzig text corpus website in English no longer works with my browser, sorry.

#10Authorhm -- us (236141) 19 Aug 15, 17:58
@9 Mein Beitrag bezog sich nicht auf das Bastlerutensil sondern auf das Verb. Dies schien mir klar, hätte ich aber auch anmerken können. Woher ich das "Wissen" habe, habe ich klar gestellt. CNN ist nicht Fox-News und bietet einen recht breit angelegten Wortschatz ohne Erklärung. Deren "kleinster gemeinsamer Nenner" ist also nicht unbedingt Grundschul-Niveau. Dass in Uni-Hörsälen 'to shellac' kein Stirnrunzeln auslöst, ist m.E. von 'recht unbekannt' abgedeckt. Eine Bildungselite kennt 'recht unbekannte' Worte.
Und mit Angabe der Quelle stand und steht es ja eben jedem offen, die Aussage zu bewerten.
#11Authorwor (335727) 19 Aug 15, 18:29
My family has used the term "give a (good) shellacking" in everyday contexts for generations (and long before sports broadcasting). But I wouldn't expect to hear it much in university circles (outside of sports) and it probably doesn't make many English as foreign language word lists.

to shellac
2: to defeat decisively

#12AuthorJurist (US) (804041) 19 Aug 15, 18:32
Context/ examples
Internet examples:
• I'm going to be shellacking the pine floors in our home
• If you want to tone down the reflective, shiny quality of a shellacked surface or to refinished shellacked wood, you can do so without stripping off the finish
• Dried gourds are cleaned, painted, shellacked, or waxed. Well-treated gourds become durable containers
• What cleaning product should I use for shellacked wooden floors?
• You can test to see if the cabinets have been shellacked by rubbing the cabinet with alcohol.
• If your cabinets have been shellacked, you'll need to remove the glossy element before you can paint.

• (2010) President Barack Obama waves as he turns to leave after calling the election a 'shellacking' for Democrats during a news conference
• Robbie Deans shellshocked after record Barbarians shellacking
... former Wallabies boss reflected on leading the Barbarians to their heaviest ever defeat ... appeared fairly shellshocked from the 73-12 thrashing the tourists took at the hands of ...
• Chicago Takes a Census Shellacking ... bad news for the city of Chicago, whose population plunged
• Mariners crushed again in 22-10 shellacking by Boston ... hit bottom Saturday in a 22-10 annihilation by the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
• The drug war took a one of its biggest shellackings in history this week as the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives voted to cement the federal cease-fire on medical marijuana
• More than 2 months after [Hurricane] Ike, oysters take shellacking ... At least 60 percent of the crop in Galveston Bay is destroyed
• Croatia Ends Cameroon's World Cup Hopes in 4-0 Shellacking
• Energy stocks shellacked as Nymex crude drops below $50
• Roy Hodgson has been taking a shellacking from the media today, in the aftermath of the dour and stodgy 1-0 win over Norway in Wembley on Tuesday night
• Bill Oesterle is quitting as CEO of Angie's List, saying he wants to re-enter state politics and help repair the "shellacking" Indiana's image took from the passage of the "religious freedom" act
• investors took a shellacking when the stock tanked
• The City Council took a well-deserved shellacking Tuesday night as the voters tossed at least four deadwood incumbents into unprecedented fires of public fury
• The Germans knew right where we were, and they really gave us a shellacking (Battle of the Bulge)

D.A.R.E. (Dict. of Amer. Regional English) survey question:
A thorough beating: "He gave the bully an awful ________."
licking 197
thrashing 188
beating 187
whipping 167
going-over 87
shellacking 84
walloping 84
trouncing 48

"I'm going to hazard a guess that it owes its new meaning to some kind of loose free-associative aural adaptation: it sounds like both "shelling" and "whacking", or even more loosely, it contains a satisfying rhythm of sharp-sounding consonants, and thus wound up being used in the sense of destruction."
(quoted from blog on Economist website?)
"Anything that had been 'shellacked' would have a nice rosy tinge. By the 1920s, in the USA, this effect had evidently been enough to motivate a slang use of the word meaning 'drunk'. Rosey, illuminated, and plastered show similar developments – all early 20th-century slang.
"At the same time, drunks were also being described using such words as busted, bombed, crashed, and thrashed. So it's not surprising to see these words sharing their associations."
(David Crystal)
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2758 (& passim)

Here, belatedly, is a nice 2010 thread by Agalinis with lots of citations already.

related discussion: shellac - vermöbeln

Not sure how it fell by the wayside, but since 'to shellac' and 'a shellacking' are still not in LEO, I support adding both of them. Above are some more examples, in case it helps. (Via DuckDuckGo, but it apparently doesn't allow you to link search results, annoyingly.)

The sense that is probably most dated is the one meaning a literal beating or thrashing. I think the term still exists, but the practice may just be rarer, now that corporal punishment and fistfights are both frowned on rather than encouraged.

I didn't find many examples for the literal beating sense outside dictionaries, but it's hard to think of a plausible context that rules out sports, elections, stock market, etc. And DuckDuckGo apparently doesn't let you use quotation marks as handily as Grrgle (or images or anything else). I wish I knew a really good search engine that would just search, and nothing else.

And of course the sense meaning drunk seems to be completely obsolete now. Unless anyone has heard of it -- I hadn't until I read the Language Log excerpts.
#13Authorhm -- us (236141) 19 Aug 15, 21:45
I'm not all familiar with give or take a shellacking having anything to do with drinking alcohol and I don't consider its meaning regarding a good beating, literal or figurative, to be at all new (unless 1920s is new). I consider the suggested meaning loosing a game or battle to be merely an extension of that.
#14AuthorJurist (US) (804041) 19 Aug 15, 22:28
Was the person who said 'new' one of the Language Log posters? Maybe the BE one from the Economist, if, as we seem to have partly established, there's still some AE/BE difference in how familiar the different senses are.

I have nothing against marking some of the senses [chiefly AE], but the BE speakers will have to say which ones.

The more basic step might just be to confirm which German verbs come into question for which senses. As the D.A.R.E. list shows, this general group has a lot of near-synonyms, but I don't know which ones in German are more literal or more figurative, and if the latter, suited for sports, economics, politics, whatever.

Again, I would look for 'vermöbelt' or whatever, but today I can't even access Uni Leipzig in German. A sad end to a formerly useful site. \-:
#15Authorhm -- us (236141) 19 Aug 15, 22:57
Context/ examples
"....but more likely after the midterms if the GOP gets shellacked"

WaPo "We may seen ...", Jennifer Rubin, 10.10.17
#16AuthorSteffen04 (1208249) 10 Oct 17, 17:03
Thanks for reviving the thread, showing that there is still no entry in LEO for the verb or the participle.

However, it might be more useful to post any further comments in the thread with the correct spelling to shellac.

related discussion: shellac - vermöbeln
#17Authorhm -- us (236141) 10 Oct 17, 21:23
re #17 : dieser Faden ist dort schon verlinkt ... zusammen müssten die Belege eigentlich für einen Neueintrag ausreichen ... denk' ich mal ...
#18Authorno me bré (700807) 10 Oct 17, 21:30
#16 Why the typo?
"We may seen ..." --> "We may seen ..."
#19AuthorJurist (US) (804041) 10 Oct 17, 22:06
Re #19, why indeed?

#20Authorhm -- us (236141) 10 Oct 17, 22:15
Maybe this is a bad day for copy editing and proofreading.
#21AuthorJurist (US) (804041) 10 Oct 17, 22:46
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