you bloody little stoats

möglich

Senior Member
français
Hello, still from "the Exploits of Engelbrecht", a surrealist British text written by Maurice Richardson in the 40s/50s.
This time there is game of chess involving humans for pieces - the pawns are a gang of dead-end kids from an approved school.
"Get back to your squares, you bloody little stoats!" yelled the Pawn-Master.

Can someone explain to me the meaning and origin of this word ?
Thanks.
 
  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    As Myridon says, it's a small weasel-like animal. In the northern part of their range, stoats turn white (to match the snow) in winter, and that makes a stoat an ermine; the latter's fur is used for trimming royal robes. As to origin of the word: stoat is from Middle English and is "of obscure origin", according to the Random House dictionary; Mustela erminea seems to be Latin for "Armenian rat".
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    In the children's novel "Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame, the anthropomorphic river-bank animals included the stoats, "all right in a way...but...well, you can't really trust them". They were grouped with the weasels, ferrets and foxes. It isn't impossible that Richardson had creatures from this book in mind.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    Weasel is very common as an epithet - not usually for children, but for people considered to be underhanded or sly. I think Velisarius makes a great point, and I also suspect that stoat was chosen because the word itself, even if you have no idea what it means, just sounds so...negative, so derogatory. I've never read this book but I can hear the Pawn-Master's voice.
     
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