to back a horse

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Senior Member
Dear all
Please tell me if " backed a horse" in the follwing context from Ulysses of Joyce, Episode 12 (Cyclops) means riding a horse or betting on a horse:
- I know where he's gone, says Leneban, cracking his fingers.
- Who? says I.
- Bloom, says he. The courthouse is a blind. He had a few bob on Throwaway and he's gone to gather in the shekels.
- Is it that whiteeyed kaffir? says the citizen, that never backed a horse in anger in his life?
I will open another thread about "in anger".
  • pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    Oh my god, James Joyce. :D Good luck with Ulysses. You'll need it. According to Wikipedia:
    Joyce once said that he had "put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant"
    Anyway, based on the sentence before, I would suggest that "backed a horse" means, as it usually does, "placed a bet on a horse in a race." It may have another meaning as well, because, first, that's not something one usually does "in anger," and second, because most things Joyce writes have at least two meanings. :)
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