Slyboots – Friday’s Word of the Day Haiku

Today’s word of the Day on Dictionary.com is slyboots.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines slyboots as “a person who avoids showing or telling other people what he or she is thinking or intending.”

The Word Detective says that sly boot is a cousin to the term “sneaky Pete”.

“…The Oxford English Dictionary defines “sly boots” as “a sly, cunning, or crafty person; one who does things on the sly,” and notes that the phrase is usually applied in “mild or jocular use.” It’s not a phrase used in anger, in other words, but the sort of thing you say when you discover you’ve been mildly deceived (“Oh, you sly boots. You snuck a seventeenth kitten into the house!”).

“Sly boots” is a very old phrase, defined (“a seeming silly, but subtle Fellow”) in Nathan Bailey’s 1721 Dictionary of Canting and Thieving Slang, and probably a good deal older. “Sly,” of course, means “cunning, clever or wily,” and comes from an Old Norse word meaning “crafty.” “Boots” is the interesting bit, originally, in the 17th century, used as slang for a servant in a hotel who cleaned the guests’ boots. It was also used to mean the most junior officer of a regiment or member of a club, the one most likely to be stuck with menial chores (“My chief resistance to discipline was at mess where I could not brook the duties of Boots..,” 1806). “Boots,” used as a synonym of “fellow,” also found its way into various humorous and colloquial phrases of the period, such as “smooth boots” (one who is adept at flattery and manipulation), “clumsy boots” and “lazy boots.” These phrases are rarely heard today, but I think there’s an excellent case for bringing back “smooth boots,” especially here in the US. It is, after all, an election year.”

It seems that dictionary.com is enjoying this election season here in the US. Try as I might to avoid political commentary, politics seems to be a running theme! Here’s my Haiku!

Slyboots say, “trust me”
as if they truly mean it…
Trust me…they do not!


kat ~ 10 June 2016


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