Friday, August 08, 2008

Galluses and Coincidences

I learned a new word the other day in conversation: "galluses." A couple of questions later, I knew we were talking about suspenders for holding up one's britches, particularly when wearing a tool belt.

Here's the Wikipedia entry for Suspenders:

Suspenders or Galluses, known as Braces in British English, are elastic fabric straps worn over the shoulders to hold up trousers. The entire strap of braces may be elasticated, or only at attachment ends, with the most of the straps being of woven cloth with either a X-Back or Y-back crosspatch and leather end tabs. Braces typically attach to trousers with clips or, less commonly nowadays, with buttons. In British English the term suspenders or suspender belt refers to a garter belt, used to hold up stockings.

So here's another potentially embarrassing American English/British English confusion to add to "vests" and "knickers." An American gentleman, such as Larry King, looks dignified when he wears suspenders on his television show, while in Britian, a gentleman in suspenders is more likely to occur in a Benny Hill skit. But I digress.

Not three days after I learned the meaning of "galluses," I came across this passage in Collected Stories of William Faulkner:

There are other men among us now whose families are in want; men who, perhaps, would not work anyway, but who now, since the last few years, cannot find work. These all attain and hold to a certain respectability by acting as agents for the manufacturers of minor articles like soap and men's toilet accessories and kitchen objects, being seen constantly about the square and the streets carrying small black sample cases....

...."He's a man yet. Don't let hit fool you none because he claims he ain't strong enough to work. Maybe hit's because he ain't never wore his strength down toting around one of them little black satchels full of pink galluses and shaving soap...."


Anonymous said...

This tends to happen to me very often. It seemed to happen when I read Vonnegut novels and spiraled. My husband and I were discussing examples of it and a few days later he ran across an article on the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. We have lots of fun with it now!

Rebecca Clayton said...

Thanks for the link--although it's a familiar experience, I didn't know it had its own name and newspaper column!

k-brow said...

I've heard my mom (from Cabell Co, W.VA) and my dad (Rockbridge Co VA) both use this term to describe suspenders.