bent as a sickle

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Slova, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. Slova Junior Member

    Russian
    Hi everyone,

    What trait of a person's character does "bent as a sickle" describe?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
  3. morior_invictus

    morior_invictus Senior Member

    Slovak
    Hi Slova,
    I don`t think it refers to some feature of a person's character. I would say that if "someone`s body is bent like a sickle," it means that "it is deformed into a shape of sickle." / "it resembles a shape of sickle."
    Where did you read it?

    (cross-posted) I`m sorry, Beryl.
     
  4. Slova Junior Member

    Russian
    Sorry, I thought it is a well-known expression judged by the reiteration in the google.
    The whole thing goes: " Boris the Blade, or Boris "the Bullet Dodger." As bent as the Soviet sickle, and as hard as the hammer that crosses it. Apparently, it's just impossible to kill the bastard." from "Snatch" by Guy Ritchie.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  5. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I'm assuming from what you've quoted that the character Boris is some sort of criminal - is that right?

    If so, "bent" would have this meaning from the WR English dictionary:
    Added "Bent as a sickle" isn't a standard collocation. I imagine "bent as the Soviet sickle" is being used here because Boris is Russian?
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  6. morior_invictus

    morior_invictus Senior Member

    Slovak
    Oh, I agree with Loob. :D In this case, it is used as a metaphor meaning "As corrupted as Soviet Union,..."
    Or maybe he is really curved like a sickle so you can`t hit him with a bullet and therefore he`s called "the Bullet Dodger." :D
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  7. Slova Junior Member

    Russian
    I understand why it is Soviet sickle. Yes, because Boris is Russian. What I don't understand is why he is "bent". A dishonest/corrupt as a sickle does not make sense to me either. Besides criminal is supposed to be dishonest (corrupt). I suppose the attributes pertain more to Russia rather than to the Soviet Union.

    Any other ideas?
     
  8. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    The origin of this phrase is "bent as a butcher's hook" it is British slang from the London area.

    It is a colourful phrase that means "very bent"

    "bent as a butcher's hook" has two meanings when used to describe someone
    (a) they engage in criminal activities
    (b) they are homosexual
    Which is meant depends on the context and the version of slang used by the speaker.

    Changing "butcher's hook" to "sickle" indicates that they are speaking about a Russian rather than a British person.
     
  9. Slova Junior Member

    Russian
    Now, I figure it is not only me who is baffled. :) I hope Guy Ritchie at least knew what it's supposed to mean when he was embeding it into the script.
     
  10. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    I'm sure he did. Why do you find it baffling?
     
  11. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    You're thinking about it too hard and confusing yourself. The sickle just has to be crooked (crooked means bent and dishonest both).
     
  12. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    Having read some of the script online, I'd say they are all criminals. They would be unlikely to refer to one of their number as dishonest - it would be taken for granted. I now incline towards the idea that Boris is gay.

    . Bent
    Opposite of straight, meaning homosexual. Joey from down the street is hella bent actin the way he does. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bent&page=2



    1. bent as a butchers hook 10 up, 4 down
    1. A bummer 2. gay as fuck 3. A common british phrase used to describe a gay member of society. I saw Charlie last night, he's a very intelligent bloke, but he's as bent as a butchers hook.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  13. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    Does anyone know the name of this kind of simile? One in which the characteristic being imputed is not actually possessed by the object of comparison, in anything other than a punning way.
     
  14. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    No, I don't think that's what it means, morior.

    You have to treat the simile on two different levels. First, there's the literal - visual - meaning of "bent" as in "curved". Biffo has given another example: "bent as a butcher's hook".

    Then you have to substitute the relevant meaning of "bent". I assumed it was "corrupt", Biffo - having done more research than I did - sees it as "gay".

    However you interpret "bent", the simile isn't attributing that meaning to the Soviet Union or to Russia: the simile works on the visual level.
     
  15. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    I think perhaps Slova has taken this to be a bit of an insult to Russia and Russians. I don't think it was so intended. Rather, I think that the character, Boris, is "bent" (whether that means gay or, I rather suspect, even more criminally devious than his associates) and "hard" (emotionless, merciless). The author, looking for a picturesque figure of speech, thinks of the Soviet hammer-and-sickle symbol simply because Boris is Russian.
     
  16. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    That's exactly how I see it, too, Parla:).
     
  17. morior_invictus

    morior_invictus Senior Member

    Slovak
    Yes, after Biffo`s explanation I got it. Thank you, Loob. :):thumbsup: I missed the target ...again. :rolleyes:
    I am sure that we may consider "bent as a sickle" a "double entendre", but this is not what you are looking for. May we consider it a literary "burlesque?" Or a "metonymy?" I think I should refresh some literary terms and their real meanings. :D
     
  18. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    After a little more research (but not exhaustive!) there seem to be two very similar expressions with different meanings:

    Bent as a nine-bob note
    A person who is as bent as a nine bob note is dishonest. The reference comes from pre-decimalisation in UK (1971), when a ten shilling (bob) note was valid currency but no such note as nine shillings existed.

    Read more at http://www.usingenglish.com/reference/idioms/bent+as+a+nine+bob+note.html#U2RgZQkxhkfHVfii.99

    Bent as a butchers hook
    Describing a person who is gay.

    However there is almost inevitably a confusion between these two idioms and so I think the perceived meaning will depend on a lot of factors; region, context and prior knowledge.

    I suspect that there will be a clarification somewhere in Ritchie's piece but, if there isn't, I don't think we'll ever know for certain.
     
  19. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    It is important to see “bent” as being the converse of “straight” both literally and figuratively.

    “This is a straight deal” – honest
    “This is a straight exchange” - uncomplicated
    “He is straight with people” – direct
    “He is a straight policeman” – honest, trustworthy, not bribable
    “He is straight.” – heterosexual

    “This deal is bent” – dishonest; criminal
    “This is a bent car” – stolen; with forged documents; with fake and unreliable parts; badly repaired but made to look good so as to be deceptive.
    “He is a bent policeman” – dishonest, untrustworthy, bribable
    “He is bent” – homosexual; not heterosexual;
    “He is bent” – dishonest, untrustworthy; deceptive; steeped in the criminal world.
    All are pejorative.

    See also figurative meanings of “twisted” and “warped”.
     
  20. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    That's a good point. If Boris is a policeman then for sure "a bent cop" means a dishonest cop. However if Boris is a criminal then I think it probably means Boris is gay.

    We need to know more about Boris to give a definite answer.
     
  21. Slova Junior Member

    Russian
    Thank you all for the scrutiny but it seems you didn't watch the movie itself. Boris was a criminal like others and now I'm inclined to think he was "more criminally devious" (Parla) rather than a gay, for no evidence of his homosexual nature is available in the whole movie. On the other hand his conspicuous characteristics of a crimial are presented by multiple evidence.

    Parla, I didn't take it as an offense for Russia 'cause it's true but I'm not so sure about the Soviet Union though. Obviously most people just do not differentiate between Russia and USSR.
     
  22. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    Well, many, anyway. There's a lot of ignorance in this world. :(
     
  23. morior_invictus

    morior_invictus Senior Member

    Slovak
    Hi Slova,
    you were comparing Soviet sickle and hammer to Boris. Do you really think that it is a part of today Russia? I don`t think so. With regard to today Russia, it died out along with CCCP (a union of 15 Soviet republics). Of course it exists in some communist countries as it was not only a symbolic representation of CCCP (not Russia), but of Communism in general. The 1993 constitution declares Russia a democratic, federative and law-based state. Yes, I missed the mark, but not with comparing a Soviet sickle to Soviet Union. CCCP is not the same as Russia. If I typed that "bent as the Soviet sickle" means "corrupted as Russia," it would be a confusion of "concepts" with "impressions," i. e. a pure nonsense. We didn`t quite understand each other. I`m sorry. :( I think, my part in this thread is not needed anymore, as I can`t answer your question. I hope you`ll find here a relevant and satisfying answer to your question. :thumbsup: << -- comment deleted -- >>
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 12, 2013

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