lath of a crater

Walt Whitman

Senior Member
Italian - Italy
Source: from Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Brontë (chapter 21)

Context: Cathy and Linton laugh at poor Hareton because, when asked, he can’t read his own name carved above the door. Hareton quickly grows angry and shouts back at Linton:

“If thou wern’t more a lass than a lad, I’d fell thee this minute; pitiful lath of a crater!” retorted the angry boor retreating, while his face burnt with mingled rage, and mortification; for he was conscious of being insulted, and embarrassed how to resent it.

Could you please have a look at my rephrasing of the text? (Honestly, I was stuck on the phrase “lath of a crater”; it seems to me its rewording is quite difficult.)

“If you looked more like a boy than a girl, I’d knock you down right now, you despicable teaser”, replied the angry boor while walking away, his face burning with a combination of rage and mortification. He knew he had been insulted but didn’t know how to react.

Than you
  • A lath is a thin strip of wood. Presumably this is Yorkshire dialect and means 'a long streak of nothing' (in Cockney dialect) which means somebody who is tall and too thin. An insult, in any case.
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    Erm ... is as thin as a lath still only in use by me? ~ I would've said it was still fairly common here [Lancashire] :confused:
    My Mum says it. She is from near Rotherham - though she once taught at the primary school in Thornton, the village where Emily Bronte was born. Pronounced latt. According to the OED, the form ending in -t goes back to Old English, but the form ending -th only goes back to the 16th century.
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