shape of an L on her forehead

Discussion in 'English Only' started by mandarina.m, May 3, 2007.

  1. mandarina.m Member

    From the song All Star by Smash Mouth:

    /.../ She was looking kind of dumb with her finger and her thumb
    In the shape of an "L" on her forehead /.../

    I've seen people doing this irl, but I haven't figuered out the exact meaning yet. And googling doesn't help much either... Does it mean "looser" or something in this direction? And does it have anything to do with Shrek? :)

    Thanks a lot!
  2. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    Hi mandarina,
    Welcome to the English only forum.

    Yes, the "L" sign means "loser."

    I'm sorry but I don't know of any connection to "Shrek," but I do know the sign has been around for at least 10 years (I've seen my students making the sign for that long!).

    P. S. "Loser" is from the word "to lose"; however, "looser" means not as tight (from the adjective "loose."
  3. french4beth

    french4beth Senior Member

    No, it means "loser" (doesn't have anything to do with Shrek).
  4. mandarina.m Member

    Thank you very much!

    And, yes, I'm aware of the difference between lose and loose - but apparently not really successful at applying it. :eek:
  5. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    Welcome to the forum! Trust me, you're not alone with the "lose/loose" problem. Many native speakers have the same problem. :)
  6. libre_pensador Senior Member

    I believe All Star is on the Shrek soundtrack. (I've seen the movie with my little brother many times.) :)
  7. mandarina.m Member

    Hi, libre pensador!

    I think it's true. I just wondered whether the meaning was connected with the movie. But since Joelline says the gesture has been around for at least ten years, it probably has no direct connection with the green monster. :) Thanks anyway!

    PS: What a nice brother your little brother has. :)
  8. Yeah, I heard that song in Shrek many, many times. I guess the lyrics to the Smash Mouth song definitely have something to do with the movie, as Shrek was a "loser", and so was his beloved (who also became an ogre from time to time, making her a definite outsider). The "L" gesture, however, pre-dates the movie, but you gotta' guess that the gesture became part of it...
  9. french4beth

    french4beth Senior Member

    Not at all, Mandarina - I put the meaning up & the correct spelling because when I "googled" the expression, I got back results with both spellings ("loser" is the correct spelling in this context).
  10. WizardLuigi Member

    Spanish - Spain
    Hello! Just one thing, the "L" on sb's forehead means the one doing gesture is a "loser" or is the one seeing that?
    By the way, in the first post mandarina.m says "...doing this irl...", what's the meaning of "irl"? "gesture", "sign" or something like that?
  11. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I think irl is chatspeak for "in real life" the way you used sb to mean somebody - By the way, I don't think either is really allowed on the forum (according to the rules)
  12. Sabapathy Member

    Form your Left hand fingers flat and your thumb pointing upwards. It will look like "L" shape with longer side, horizontally.

    Now place your fingers on your fore-head; with-out disturbing thw "L" shape.

    This is how a worried person / person having a severe head-ache does, placing the fingers like "L" shape on the fore-head. This is a sort of body language , expressing that one is not well either physically or mentally.

    - Sabapathy
  13. Cypherpunk Senior Member

    Springdale, AR
    US, English
    Sorry, Sabapathy, that's not what the gesture means. The description provided previously is the correct meaning, in the context provided in the original post.
    By the way, you make the gesture toward someone that you believe to be a 'loser' or that you are teasing.
  14. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Moderator note:

    Just a reminder from the
    WordReference Rules:
    This is an old thread that was revived - thank you for searching and adding to an existing thread! Some forms that slipped in at that time are not allowed now, like irl ("in real life"). Please be careful to write out words in full, including somebody and something. There are very few abbreviations that are accepted in the English Only forum.

    Thank you.
  15. WizardLuigi Member

    Spanish - Spain
    Sorry, I watched the music video of the song "All star" - Smash Mouth on Youtube (I would provide the url if it wasn't against the rules) and, when the song arrives to "she was looking kind of dumb, with her finger and his thumb in the shape of an L on his forehead", it appears a little boy doing the gesture in another way: palm of his right hand focused to the viewer and longer side of the L (forefinger) vertically, so as the L can be read.
    Which of both gestures is the most extended or the correct one?
    Thanks a lot!
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2009
  16. Cagey post mod

    English - US
    I think the line of the song refers to two different things.

    One has not been mentioned yet. It is the idea that if something is wrong with a person, he or she will have to wear the initial of that shameful flaw on her forehead. There is a very famous American novel, The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne, in which a woman who has committed adultery is compelled to wear a red A on her dress. Perhaps the idea started there and was changed to a letter on the forehead because that would be even more conspicuous. Perhaps the idea that the letter would be on the forehead started somewhere else. In any case, the point of the song is that she is so clearly a loser that it is just as if she had an L for loser on her forehead.

    The other allusion is to children's taunt by making an L for loser with their hands to taunt someone, as has been said above. In the song, it is as if the shameful letter L had been written on her forehead by the children's taunts.

    I am certain that the gesture is the one you see in the movie, and which you describe so clearly.

    Sabapathy is describing a gesture that may sound similar, but it is used in completely different context and has a different meaning. It is not relevant to the line we are discussing.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2009
  17. WizardLuigi Member

    Spanish - Spain
    Thanks a lot, Cagey!
    Now I get the whole point of that!

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