He's a cool customer

Discussion in 'English Only' started by jumper8777, Sep 28, 2006.

  1. jumper8777 Junior Member

    Mandarin
    Hi all,

    I saw this phrase from one news artical. But don't know what that meant?
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Customer here simply means guy or fellow, and cool means he has poise, doesn't show his reactions, or gets through stressful situations without showing any emotional strain.

    It's sometimes implied that those stressful situations involve something hidden in his motives, or in his life in general. A smuggler going through customs has to learn how to come of as a pretty cool customer. A used car salesman can be a pretty cool customer (when dealing with literal customers), which implies that his sales pitch is smooth, impervious to arguments and objections-- possibly a little less than honest.

    When faced by a group of reporters with questions about a certain unpleasantness involving finances or personal conduct, a poitician can be a very cool customer.
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  3. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Warwick
    UK English
    It depends on the context but it could be someone who is incredibly self assured. Imagine you are in a hospital and someone comes in takes all of the TVs or the PCs. Because they look right, wear blue overalls for example, nobody challenges them. They walk off with the lot and you slowly realise that you have been robbed by some pretty cool customers.
     
  4. mgarizona

    mgarizona Senior Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    US - American English
    Consider it an idiom suggesting that someone is 'unflappable,' or 'imperturbable.'

    It has a rather old-fashioned, pseudo-'hard-boiled' sound to it, though.
     
  5. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Warwick
    UK English
    Really? I think here nobody would raise their eyebrows if they heard it, perhaps it's more common in the UK than in America.
     
  6. jumper8777 Junior Member

    Mandarin
    Oh... Now I got it. Thank you all!! :)
     
  7. stranger in your midst

    stranger in your midst Senior Member

    English / Scotland
    Another perhaps slightly more quaint BE variation of 'cool customer' is 'slim customer', which seems have a very similar meaning, except I don't think you would use it to descibe a smuggler or car salesman - it has less of an edge to it.

    Or 'cool as a cucumber' or 'butter wouldn't melt in his mouth' are both commonly used in BE to describe an unflappable individual.
     
  8. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Warwick
    UK English
    Really, where is that used? I've never heard it. Is it a regional thing? I'm all ears.

    All the best
     
  9. susanna76 Senior Member

    Romanian
    I heard "slim customer" in the movie Lawrence of Arabia.
     
  10. "Customer here simply means guy or fellow, and cool means he has poise, doesn't show his reactions, or gets through stressful situations without showing any emotional strain."


    As Foxfirebrand notes in this quote from his post #2, it's important to understand it can be used just for that purpose only, and does not have to refer to anything having to do with goods or items or smuggling, etc.

    He's a cool customer = He's unflappable/remains unperturbed in all situations.
     
  11. susanna76 Senior Member

    Romanian
    "Unflappable" is a good word to describe a "cool customer." Thank you, Dale!
     
  12. perpend

    perpend Senior Member

    American English
    I guess it's the classic "smooth operator".
     

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