an eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay


Senior Member
Context is the famous letter by Truman to a music critic.

Mr. Hume:-

I've just read your lousy review of Margaret's concert. I've come to the conclusion that you are an "eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay."

I' not sure to understand the latter part : "« un homme aux huit ulcères payés quatre » ?
  • Quantz

    Senior Member
    Oui, bien sûr, c'est l'anglais. mais cette expression a-t-elle un référent ? Truman l'a-t-il inventée ?

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Eh, I don't really get it, either. From a Washington Post article (might be inaccessible behind a paywall):

    Truman may be suggesting a connection between ulcers, particularly gastric or peptic ulcers, caused by an excess of digestive acids, and bile, produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Thus, Hume was the sort of critic who used twice as much bile as necessary to get the job done. But this would suggest that Truman was, in part at least, in agreement with Hume's negative assessment; it was just a matter of degree.

    Or Truman may simply be confusing several idioms, suggesting, in general, that Hume was a man puffed up to twice his size.
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