butter and egg men

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joh2001smile

Senior Member
Chinese
I googled for the collocation and found it means those who spend money like water. But how can this be one of the "businesses"?
Context:
Relatives and family friends were for the most part in low-end businesses, housepainters and “butter and egg men,” as he calls them.
 
  • nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    I googled for the collocation and found it means those who spend money like water. But how can this be one of the "businesses"?
    Context:
    Relatives and family friends were for the most part in low-end businesses, housepainters and “butter and egg men,” as he calls them.
    I wonder if "low-end businesses" and "butter and egg men" are both referring to the "unsophisticated" part of the meaning in this context.

    http://www.probertencyclopaedia.com/cgi-bin/res.pl?keyword=Butter+and+Egg+Man&offset=0
     

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    Perhaps he's using it in the literal sense of working in the dairy industry. However, I suspect nichec is right. The author is saying that these people are unsophisticated.

    Incidentally, I don't think the sentence is well constructed - shouldn't there be a semi-colon after "low-end businesses"? If not, then it's possible that "housepainters and butter and egg men" do not form a list of low end businesses but that "in low-end businesses, housepainters and butter and egg men" all form a list of the various occupations.
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    Perhaps he's using it in the literal sense of working in the dairy industry. However, I suspect nichec is right. The author is saying that these people are unsophisticated.

    Incidentally, I don't think the sentence is well constructed - shouldn't there be a semi-colon after "low-end businesses"? If not, then it's possible that "housepainters and butter and egg men" do not form a list of low end businesses but that "in low-end businesses, housepainters and butter and egg men" all form a list of the various occupations.
    I thought about "butter and egg men" as people working in the dairy industry too :)

    This sentence is a bit peculiar, maybe we can read it as "Relatives and family friends were for the most part in low-end businesses, (such as) housepainters and "butter and egg men" (dairy industry), as he called them".

    Or perhaps it should be "Relatives and family friends were for the most part in low-end businesses, (they were) housepainters and "butter and egg men" (unsophisticated people), as he called them".

    But either way, I still think it's an odd sentence :p
     

    katie_here

    Senior Member
    England/English
    I'm wondering if "butter and egg" men refer to those who did low menial jobs on farms in return for butter and eggs rather than money.

    Maybe not though, as I googled and found this...

    Butter and egg man: The money man, the man with the bankroll, a yokel who comes to town to blow a big wad in nightclubs
    Which would tie-in with the part about spending money like water.

    Perhaps he's the man who sells butter and eggs, then spends all the money in one night on the town.

    Low-end business may mean this kind of business, where you buy and sell, then spend. Buy and sell then spend, so you have no collateral and you're not building your business but existing.
     

    katie_here

    Senior Member
    England/English
    This sentence is a bit peculiar, maybe we can read it as "Relatives and family friends were for the most part in low-end businesses, (such as) housepainters and "butter and egg men" (dairy industry), as he called them".
    I think you have it spot on there. Although it doesn't sound peculiar to me. :)

    It's just the words that are used, they may not be so familiar to many people but to me it makes pefect sense.

    But in plain words it says..

    Most of the relatives and family friends were in low turnover businesses, such as housepainters and farm hands or odd-job men (or some other similar job).

    "Butter and Egg men" I think doesn't refer to the dairy industry itself, but any kind of job where you probably get cash in hand, then spend it that night on beer and entertainment, then next day you have nothing, so you go out, do some more work, get paid and spend it again.
     

    meat pies!!

    Member
    English
    I think you're reading into it a little too much.

    It just means that they could only eat butter and eggs. As in it's all they could afford ...
     
    Last edited:

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    i think your reading into it a little too much

    it just means that they could only eat butter and egg as in it's all they could afford ...
    Hmm, that's an interesting idea.

    I wonder if that's what the author meant.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I googled for the collocation and found it means those who spend money like water. But how can this be one of the "businesses"?
    Context:
    Relatives and family friends were for the most part in low-end businesses, housepainters and “butter and egg men,” as he calls them.

    "Spending money like water" is not the same as "low-end" is it? I've never heard this phrase before, so I can't advise on its regular use .. but it does remind me of "bread and butter" which is a common idiom for "basic".
     

    katie_here

    Senior Member
    England/English
    I hope this isn't too much of a quote but if it is, I got it from here:-

    http://www.miskatonic.org/butter_and_egg.html

    [...]
    One night a man with a slow midwestern drawl came in and cheerfully began dispensing fifty-dollar bills to all the dancers.
    [...]
    "I'm a big man in dairy produce," he muttered.
    "That's applesauce to this mob. I'll send you right in," and Tex shouted,
    "He's a big butter and egg man."
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    WestSideGal

    Senior Member
    English, US
    I googled for the collocation and found it means those who spend money like water. But how can this be one of the "businesses"?
    Context:
    Relatives and family friends were for the most part in low-end businesses, housepainters and “butter and egg men,” as he calls them.
    A "butter and egg man" in this case is just your plain ordinary milkman, the guy who came to your house to sell you, among other things, butter and eggs.

    It was not considered to be a high paying job, a blue collar working Joe (as we say in the US), and not something very sophisticated.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Google tells me that "butter and egg man" also used to refer to people who ran shops packing and selling butter, eggs and cheese.
     
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