Tuesday, January 06, 2009

It's Optimific All Over Again

I used the word "piker" today in Contracts class, to denote a person who was below-average or mediocre at their avocation. The professor had never heard of it -- she asked if it was football term. After class I asked around: most people hadn't heard the term; one person who had defined it as someone who was a cheapskate or who gambles only for small amounts of money. Wiktionary verifies their definition, as well as my own through the third definition, an "amateur".

Is this word very uncommon? It didn't occur to me when I said it I was saying anything regional or obscure, but I gather than it's not a well known term.


PG said...

Once a piker, now a striker... so I've known it since at least 1992.

It just occurred to me that getting my first exposure to organized labor from Disney may explain some of my skepticism toward big unions.

Shaun Mullen said...

The short answer is that it is an English term of endearment that, according to the OED, has been in pretty much continuous use since 1832, but less so on this side of the pond.

David Schraub said...

Yeah, I heard about that too -- but apparently it's used differently in America; sufficiently so that it wouldn't be understood the way we use it in Commonwealth nations.