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August 23, 2007 10:06 AM   Subscribe

What is the origin of the phrase "(you're) a gentleman and a scholar", or what popularized it?

I've seen this, but I was wondering if anyone here knew something a little more definite.
posted by Arasithil to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
The poet Robert Burns (the source cited in that link) was about as popular as it got. He's the source of many an oft-quoted saying ("The best laid plans of mice and men," etc. is all that comes to mind right now), so I think you need look no further.
posted by Beckminster at 10:42 AM on August 23, 2007


I've also heard "a gentleman, a scholar, and an acrobat."
posted by grouse at 10:42 AM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think grouse means a gentleman, a scholar and an artist. I've never heard acrobat.

It has something to do with being a "triple threat" I believe but I'm not positive.
posted by PetiePal at 10:54 AM on August 23, 2007


As much as MeFites hate SomethingAwful, I know that I've seen it around their forums for ages... and despite opt-focused hatred of Goons, they can make catch phrases that spread like wild fire.
posted by banannafish at 10:54 AM on August 23, 2007


No, I meant what I said. Try Google.
posted by grouse at 10:57 AM on August 23, 2007


I found a paper that argues that the saying (or, at least, the idea) is older than Burns.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:57 AM on August 23, 2007


My father always says "you're a gentleman and a scholar and a fine judge of women and wine."

But according to Google, he's the only one who's ever said that ever.
posted by jrossi4r at 11:05 AM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


"The Pink Panther Show" theme song, 1969:
"He really is a groovy cat, and he's a gentleman, a scholar, he's an-acrobat."
posted by iviken at 11:18 AM on August 23, 2007


I heard "you're a gentleman, a scholar, and a fine judge of whiskey" from my Irish English teacher a good decade or more ago. Definitely not from the SomethingAwful forums.
posted by ubersturm at 11:34 AM on August 23, 2007


1838 - A gentleman, a scholar, and a christain.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:42 AM on August 23, 2007


Sorry, wrong page, it's:

1838 - A gentleman, a scholar, and a christian.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:43 AM on August 23, 2007


I think it was probably a common phrase, used when meeting a 'gentleman' (someone refined, etiquette'd, and with a classical education) for the first time and finding him to be learned beyond what would typically be expected of a gentleman. "why, you're a gentleman and a scholar!"

I've seen the two put together, 'a gentleman scholar', which I took to mean exactly that, someone refined but with time and resources available to pursue scholarship.

It's also in a line from a Robert Burns poem, The Twa Dogs (link), which puts it back at least as far as the late 1700's:

His locked, letter'd, braw brass collar / Shew'd him the gentleman an' scholar;
posted by jma at 12:11 PM on August 23, 2007


The way I learned it, it's "a gentleman, a scholar, and a good judge of bad whiskey."
posted by ottereroticist at 12:17 PM on August 23, 2007


"You're a gentleman and a scholar, you'll be a man before your mother." Warped humor around our home.
posted by LoraxGuy at 12:27 PM on August 23, 2007


I don't know where it's from, but I knew a guy once who used an extended version:

"You're a gentleman and a scholar. Your generosity and extreme good looks are only exceeded by your uncanny ability to distinguish between fast women and good horses."

You have to say it fast for good effect.
posted by BorgLove at 1:06 PM on August 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


As much as MeFites hate SomethingAwful, I know that I've seen it around their forums for ages... and despite opt-focused hatred of Goons, they can make catch phrases that spread like wild fire.

My mother has used the phrase as praise in a joking manner to males who did nice things since I was a child four decades back, so I'm pretty sure it didn't originate at SA.

Also, MeFites don't 'hate SomethingAwful' (although some may, I guess). Many of us are also goons. Site rivalries are dumb. (Although Lowtax does seem like a bit of a dick sometimes, I'll admit.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:12 AM on August 24, 2007


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