(source: Iceberg Slim - Pimp, The story of my life)

section of the novel that contains the expression:

“Her name was No Thumbs Helen. She was at that time one of the slickest "from the person" thieves in the country. We got about in a forty-seven Hog. She was a magician. For almost a year she left a trail of empty wallets across five states. We were in Iowa when Helen stung a rich sod-buster for seventy-two hundred. I was in bed when she threw it on the bed. Excited? Sure I was.”


Slim recruited a thief whore who is very successful in stealing the money of the clients. One time she stole $7200 from a rich ‘sod-buster’
But what that expression means? Some sexual perversion?
  • wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    'Sod-buster', as I understand it, is a term from the pioneer days in the American west, when people took virgin land and began to cultivate it for the very first time.
    A sod is a lump of turf: to 'bust' means to 'break'. So a sod-buster was someone who broke the ground with a spade where it had never been broken before.


    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    The term was most often used in a deprecatory fashion by ranchers who found the farmers' practice of fencing off their land offensive. I don't believe it is used currently.


    Senior Member
    English - British
    If it's not too pedantic :), don't you mean 'derogatory'? (Deprecatory: 'trying to avoid trouble'.)


    Moderate Mod
    It does refer to a farmer here - specifically one who farms on the prairies where there is sod. Iowa definitely qualifies. It can refer to a farm worker, but since this guy is rich enough to be "stung for seventy-two hundred," he must be a farm owner, not just the hired hand.

    is still used, believe it or not (it's usually written as one word these days), but not to refer to a person. It originally referred to a plow specifically designed for the demanding task of cutting through prairie sod and enabling the ground to be planted, and this is presumably how it came to refer to someone who farmed on the prairie. It is still used as an adjective for things related to that era or that recall that era and as a noun as well - there is, I think, a brand of knives that goes by that name.

    But the main way I hear it used is to refer to a specific program in the U.S. federal farm program, specifically the "sodbuster provisions," which discourage farmers from plowing up erosion-prone grasslands.
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