Nuts

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“I have never tried to get outside experts on the job, because I was afraid they'd let curiosity overcome prudence. I don't want the torpedoes scared away by any hasty action. I'm too old to learn a new trade, for one thing."
"Nuts!" It was Edie's first contribution to the discus&shy;sion.
Does the 'Nuts' here means nonsense?
 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Yes, that is what it means.

    "Nuts" can be used like this to say that whatever was said by the other person is either wrong or not worth thinking about.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think it's American for 'bollocks', i.e. nonsense or go to Hell. I suspect that the etymology is based on a perceived similarity in form between testicles and nuts. We also use the term in BE to refer to the part of the body, but not often to mean nonsense, unless we wish to sound American.

    A very famous use of it was by Brigadier General Anthony C. McAuliffe, the American general in charge of Bastogne, which was completely surrounded by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. The Germans asked the Americans to surrender and got the one word answer NUTS, which must have puzzled their translators. The story is told and there is also a photo of McAuliffe here.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Note that "nuts" in colloquial American English also means "crazy."

    It might be just my way of thinking, but I've never used "nuts" as a testicular epithet. I've never understood why British males denigrate their genital equipment in such a manner.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I just want to be quite clear about this, SDG. Are you saying that Americans do not use the word nuts to mean testicles, and that when they say Nuts to mean nonsense they are talking about cashews and hazels?

    If so, I shall need some persuading.

    Or are you saying that that's what you have in mind when you say it? If so, you're like me. Bollocks are balls like footballs and tennis balls and that's what I think of when I use the word to mean nonsense.
     
    Last edited:

    Bevj

    Allegra Moderata (Sp/Eng, Cat)
    English (U.K.)
    I don't know how many of these definitions are restricted to one side of the Atlantic or the other, but I know of:
    You're nuts! = You're crazy!
    A kick in the nuts = a kick in the testicles
    Nuts! (interjection) = Rubbish! Nonsense! Bollocks! etc. (replying to a statement or phrase you don't agree with)
    Nuts = walnuts, almonds etc.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I just want to be quite clear about this, SDG. Are you saying that Americans do not use the word nuts to mean testicles, and that when they say Nuts to mean nonsense they are talking about cashews and hazels?
    Not at all. "Nut" has many meanings, including a fastening device that goes on the end of a machine screw or bolt, a colloquial name for an EN-space in typography, a wacky person, etc., in addition to those previously mentioned, including the testicular version.

    When using "nuts" to mean "nonsense" or "crazy," however, I don't think of it as having any relationship to the above.

    (Despite the fact that my state of Oregon is the largest producer of hazelnuts in the U.S.)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thank you, SDG; I'm very relieved to hear it.

    In the course of my researches into Nuts, light has been cast into an otherwise wintry day by a discovery which I am too generous-hearted not to share with all. It is this entry in the Great Encyclopedia of Bollocks. For what it's worth I think the authors have got the hang of the idiom pretty well, and the examples seem genuine and typical to me.

    Would that I could find a similar entry for Nuts. Where is the Great Encyclopedia of Nuts?
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Note that "nuts" in colloquial American English also means "crazy."

    It might be just my way of thinking, but I've never used "nuts" as a testicular epithet. I've never understood why British males denigrate their genital equipment in such a manner.
    Nuts in the sense of "deranged" originated, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, in the US and appeared in print about the same time as nuts! as an interjection "Expressing incredulity, rejection, etc.: ‘nonsense!’, ‘rubbish!’" The latter also originated in the US. The date of first attestation is 1908 and 1910, respectively.

    The interjections balls! and bollocks! are attested, respectively, 1938 and 1940, but they were probably in use earlier and were considered too vulgar to appear in print.

    Nevertheless, I don't think there is any strong evidence which points to the interjection nuts! as referring either to testicles or to derangement. It is certainly a mild interjection now--and somewhat dated, I think--and I expect is was relatively mild during World War Two, despite one American translating it for a German as "Go to hell!"
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The nut is, of course, also the head in BE. And nutty and nuts to mean crazy and nutter, for a crazy person, maybe come from the suggestion that there's something wrong in the head.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I took it to be a dismissive "Nuts!" ~ a use I am familiar with ~ because it is preceded reasons for not taking an action. My interpretation assumes that Edie disagrees and feels he can influence the decision.

    If the first speaker is in a position to make the decision, and the decision he has made disappoints Edie but Edie can't affect the decision, then Nuts! could be an expression of disappointment. I have heard it used that way, too.
     
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