up to his oxters and beyond

cuchuflete

Senior Member
EEUU-inglés
What does this mean? Etymology?

full sentence: He was in on it = totally implicated right up to his oxters and beyond.

context: a reply to a thread question about the meaning of a sentence describing a party to a crime.
 
  • Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    cuchuflete said:
    What does this mean? Etymology?

    full sentence: He was in on it = totally implicated right up to his oxters and beyond.

    context: a reply to a thread question about the meaning of a sentence describing a party to a crime.
    I had never heard that phrase or the word oxters before, but I did a quick search and found this. It looks like it is Scottish in origin and means armpit. So, "up to your oxters" idiomatically would mean something like "up to your neck" in American English.

    EDIT: I did not see your post, River. I must have been typing as you posted.
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    Oxter \Ox"ter\,
    Noun
    [AS. [=o]hsta.]
    The armpit; also, the arm. [Prov. Eng. & Scot.]
    oxtongue

    "This word is Anglo-Saxon in origin and means armpit. If a rugby match on TV shows a particularly muddy field, the players could be described as ''up to the oxters in mud''. In fact, if you're ''up to the oxters'' in anything, it means you're deep in it - whether it is water, mud or work!"

    "Up to me eyeballs" or "up to me neck/oxters" = I am very busy!
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    I commented to Panjandrum that I wondered how long it would be before someone queried his use of the word "oxters" - it's a word which I used to hear a lot but it seems to be dying out. It's "a darling word"!
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    maxiogee said:
    I commented to Panjandrum that I wondered how long it would be before someone queried his use of the word "oxters" - it's a word which I used to hear a lot but it seems to be dying out. It's "a darling word"!
    Boy howdy! Thanks, y'all, for scaring it up.

    And I thought sure it'd have something to do with Uttoxeter, a town in Staffordshire part of my family came from.
    .
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    maxiogee's stopwatch will have recorded 46 minutes from my post to cuchu's query.
    Oxter is a word that springs readily to mind in my part of the world, especially when there is something actually or metaphorically grubby and sordid. Hence it sprang readily to my mind in the context of the criminal fraternity's involvement in a heist (a nice cross-cultural blend of colourful language, I thought).

    Once it was there, I couldn't bring myself to deprive you all of the pleasure of picking it apart:)
    The armpit; (also more generally) the underside of the upper arm; the fold of the arm when bent against the body. Also: the armhole of a coat, jacket, etc.
    Chiefly Eng. regional (north.), Sc., Irish English, and Manx English.
    The first recorded example is 1420 and since then it has appeared in a range of reputable sources on both sides of the Atlantic.

    river's example of the muddy rugby-players is excellent with one tiny reservation: if oxter came to my mind in that context, so also would glaur. So they would be up to their oxters in glaur.
    (glaur = mud, slime)
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I wonder if you can be up to your oxters in something you've got your hands into-- as in the AE expression "up to your elbows." Or do you have to be wading in something to get up to your oxters in it?
    .
     

    Isotta

    Senior Member
    English
    And I would have thought it had something to do with "Adam's off-ox," which I haven't heard in a long time.

    Z.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    On a video about dialect that I have seen one of the youngsters (Irish I think) says of a drunken fellow that they had to "oxter-coddle" him home. I'd never heard it before, and now I guess it means dragging along with some support under his armpits?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I haven't come across oxter-coddle, but given the known meaning of oxter, and coddle meaning to nurse, pamper, look after someone who is not at all well, the person being oxter-coddled home probably has one insensible arm over the shoulders of a friend on each side and his toes trailing behind him.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    Yes, although I've never heard of "oxter coddle", the meaning of it was immediately clear to me. "Coddle" would be closely akin to "cuddle" I'm sure, although Chambers English Dictionary says that the etymology of the former is dubious and of the latter is unknown.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    oxter
    to take under the arm; to support by taking the arm
    Source
    Oxter / oxther / Oxters n. & vb. Armpit, or to go arm in arm
    Source
    I have found that searching for the meaning of oxter, the Dublin Slang Dictionary and Phrase Book says it is also a verb and gives three options of spelling.
    Do you use them all interchangeably as nouns and verbs?





    Here’s the etymology:
    Etymology: Middle English (Sc), alteration of Old English Oxta; akin to Old English eax axis, axle -- more at AXIS
    Source
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thomas1 said:
    I have found that searching for the meaning of oxter, the Dublin Slang Dictionary and Phrase Book says it is also a verb and gives three options of spelling.
    Do you use them all interchangeably as nouns and verbs?
    I wouldn't want you to think that oxter is used a lot. I don't often need to talk about armpits and I would only say oxters for humorous effect:) I haven't often written it.

    The OED lists lots of alternative spellings. Around here we would spell it uxter - pronounced accordingly.
     
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