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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 128

  The Englishman is naturally unfamiliar with baseball, and in consequence his language is bare of the countless phrases and metaphors that it has supplied to American. Many of these phrases and metaphors are in daily use among us, for example, fan, rooter, bleachers, batting-average, double-header, grand-stand-play, Charley-horse, pennant-winner, gate-money, busher, minor-leaguer, glass-arm, to strike out, to foul, to be shut out, to play ball, on the bench, on to his curves and three strikes and out. The national game of draw-poker has also greatly enriched American with terms that are either quite unknown to the Englishman, or known to him only as somewhat dubious Americanisms, among them, cold-deck, kitty, full-house, jack-pot, four-flusher, ace-high, pot, penny-ante, divvy, a card up his sleeve, three-of-a-kind, to ante up, to stand pat, to call (a bluff), to pony up, to hold out, to cash in, to go it one better, to chip in and for keeps. But the Englishman uses many more racing terms and metaphors than we do and he has got a good many phrases from other games, particularly cricket. The word cricket itself has a definite figurative meaning. It indicates, in general, good sports-manship. To take unfair advantage of an opponent is not cricket. The sport of boating, so popular on the Thames, has also given colloquial English some familiar terms, almost unknown in the United States, e. g., punt and weir. Contrariwise, pungy, batteau and scow are unheard of in England, and canoe is not long emerged from the estate of an Americanism. 19 The game known as ten-pins in America is called nine-pins in England, and once had that name over here. The Puritans forbade it, and its devotees changed its name in order to evade the prohibition. 20 Finally, there is soccer, a form of football that is still relatively little known in the United States. What we call simply football is Rugby or Rugger to the Englishman. The word soccer is derived from association; the