I was a <weed>, clerking there


Senior Member
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(the last para., page 296, chapter 14) by Lawrence (planetebook,here):
(context:Mellors was telling Connie about his wife, Bertha)

Well, I was in a state of murder. I chucked up my job at Butterley because I thought I was a weed, clerking there: and I got on(=made a living,I think) as overhead blacksmith at Tevershall: shoeing horses mostly. It had been my dad’s job, and I’d always been with him.

I found a definition of weed in an English-Chinese dictionary: someone useless.
But I didn't find the definition from English-English dictionaries.

So what's the meaning of weed in the quotation please?
Thank you in advance
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  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would think of it as meaning out of place, not in the right place, as is a weed in garden. He's saying what he felt about the job, not whether his employers thought he was any good at it. Given his background in blacksmithing I was interested to see that 'weed' can refer to a horse that's no good for racing or breeding so I suppose there could be that connotation too, although I still think that he thought this clerking job wasn't for him.
    By the way, this is another way in which Mellor's life story reflects DHL's own. He had started off as a clerk when he left school.

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    A weed is also a weak, spineless person, someone who is weedy (thin and ineffectual). I think that Mellors felt that clerking (a sedentary job) was unworthy of the son of a blacksmith (a job involving hard work, muscles and iron).


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Just confirming that weed is certainly capable of metaphorical extension and applied to people. Here's the OED:
    4. fig. An unprofitable, troublesome, or noxious growth. (Formerly often applied to persons.)
    5b. A lank delicate person without muscle or stamina. Hence, a small, feeble, or contemptible person; a ‘weedy’ type (see weedy adj.1 4b). slang.
    I would go with Hermione's understanding of Lawrence's use.