New Hampshire Slanguage: “It was a floorer.”

1950s Manchester NH. Pete Webster pointing a toy gun at his sister (me) who had thought we were on the same side. Maybe he just wanted his hat back. “It was a floorer.”

I was researching and came across a saying that I remember my father using, though it is rare for me to hear it today. When something happened that was totally a shock and surprise that made you speechless, you would describe it saying, “it was a floorer.”

This is an interesting colloquialism to be sure. It hints at someone hitting the floor from being faint with the thought of an event or sight. I am sure most people can relate to this sort of experience.

In researching the use of the term it appears that it was most popular in the mid-to late 1800s and into the early 1900s. In 1845 it can be found among the letters of Thomas Hood. In 1861 it is used in Hunt’s Yachting Magazine, in 1875 in Baily’s Magazine of Sports and Pasttimes. In 1886 the term was used in a news story of a military sentry who was “rattled” when he lost his password. In 1888 it appears on the English book, Sports and recreations in town and country (by Frederick Gale). As late as 1916 it appears in The Green Alleys: A Comedy.

The saying is found in England, New England, and Canada, but not too much beyond. I can’t say it was first used in New Hampshire. I don’t know where my father learned the term, or even whether his parents used it too. All I know is that wonderful colloquialisms like this one seem to be fading away. They are being replaced by new words, new sayings though perhaps not as colorful and interesting as past ones.

Did you ever hear this saying? If yes, please share when and where!

Editor’s note: this saying reminds me of another my father used a great deal. “It was a corker” which implied something similar but was not as surprising an event.  Since the original posting of this article, a friend of mine, Brian O’Connor, offered me information from A Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English, that would certain make sense of the saying. .

Floorer. 1. An auctioneer (q.v.), or knock-down blow. Hence, sudden or unpleasant news, a decisive argument, an unanswerable retort, a decisive check: Sp., peso (1819). 2. A question or a paper too hard to master. 3. A ball that brings down all the pins. 4. A thief who trips his man, and robs in picking him up ; a Ramper (q.v.).

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3 Responses to New Hampshire Slanguage: “It was a floorer.”

  1. Pam H. says:

    “I was floored.” Was a common expression used in Massachusetts in the 40s 50s and 60s.
    It was a corker was also commonly used in Massachusetts at the same time

    • Pat_H says:

      I recall my mother using “I’m floored” as an expression her whole life (she was born in 1926). I can’t recall my father using it, but it doesn’t seem like a term he would use.

      Given my mother’s use, I just assumed its a common phrase used everywhere. She’d grown up in Quebec, fwiw.

  2. Amy says:

    Floorer, no. Being floored, yes.

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