have a great line in sharp patter

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rzezucha

Senior Member
polish
The expression was used in this way:
"Later, as a teenage apprentice, he met older welders in the shipyard who had a great line in sharp patter; his own verbal facility was presumably developed through such experiences, gaining him positive attention."
It refers to Billy Conolly who became later on a comedian. And the question is what this expression exactly means? Does it simply mean that they were good in using the sharp kind of a language (jargon)?
 
  • scotu

    Senior Member
    Chicago English
    patter = glib and rapid talk: the fast well-prepared talk of somebody such as a comedian or salesperson

    "...who had a great line in sharp patter..." sounds a little unusual to me. I would more expect something like a great line of sharp patter.
     

    weescotch

    Member
    English - Scotland
    Yes, 'to have a good line in sharp patter' means to be skilled in telling funny and witty stories. 'Patter' is a Scottish word (particularly Glaswegian), which doesn't mean 'jargon' in this context. 'Patter' here means good, funny conversation (so someone in Glasgow might say 'His patter is brilliant', meaning he is interesting to speak to and really funny). It can mean 'jargon' in the context of a salesperson, though. E.g. 'He was hitting me with all this sales patter' would mean that you were being bombarded with facts, but had no idea what he was talking about!
     

    Hinata Sama

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Yes, 'to have a good line in sharp patter' means to be skilled in telling funny and witty stories. 'Patter' is a Scottish word (particularly Glaswegian), which doesn't mean 'jargon' in this context. 'Patter' here means good, funny conversation (so someone in Glasgow might say 'His patter is brilliant', meaning he is interesting to speak to and really funny). It can mean 'jargon' in the context of a salesperson, though. E.g. 'He was hitting me with all this sales patter' would mean that you were being bombarded with facts, but had no idea what he was talking about!
    I guess 'have a good line in something' is also Scottish. I found it in the Cambridge dictionary or Longman that it means doing something skillfully and successfully, but I have asked a Londoner and, he said line here means a sentence, so have a good line in patter means he has a good sentence or punch line instead of meaning the whole story or joke. Also you can't say something like have a good line in singing meaning good at singing.
    The two AE speakers above also seemed to be not familiar with this expression.
     
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