In a word: prat

The Baltimore Sun

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word: 


So many disagreeable people populate the world that we are fortunate to have many words for them. This week's, prat, is chiefly British, with a long pedigree. 

The Oxford English Dictionary dates the word from the sixteenth century, meaning "the buttocks." Thus, given the low esteem in which the buttocks are generally held, a prat is a fool, an idiot, or an ineffective or contemptible person.

The word has yielded a collateral sense in twentieth-century theater lingo, the pratfall, a comic fall, typically on the behind. 

Example: From Doug Lucie's Fashion (1989): "You wave your arms about and act like a prat and you win a prize." 

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