Author Topic: Potter or Putter  (Read 9547 times)

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Bluenomi

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Re: Potter or Putter
« Reply #30 on: November 20, 2012, 06:31:21 PM »
Aussie here - pottering. And faffing. And I agree with the distinction.

POD. There is also dithering which is sort of between the two  ;D

cabbageweevil

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Re: Potter or Putter
« Reply #31 on: November 21, 2012, 03:11:58 AM »
Here in Texas, I piddle around.

Hollis

Piddle means something quite different here - you gave me quite the mental image!

To me "piddle" is a word the owner of a puppy or small dog would use to describe it urinating on the kitchen floor. "Aww did poopsie-whoopie do a piddle puddle?" or "Ralph get in the kitchen and clean up after this puppy!  He piddled on the floor again!"

Yes. Puppies piddle. It's a bit cutesy for my vocab; but that is the meaning i know. I have also seen piddling used to demean something or someone ... piddling peasants, or a piddling amount (tiny amount) comes to mind.

The pi... word as discussed above, is used in Britain also in both the senses cited here by hobish.

Trivia item -- (I admit, getting further off-topic re puttering / pottering) -- in the county of Dorset in the south of England, there is a smallish river called the river Piddle, or Trent (not to be confused with the big river Trent further north). Said river runs through the villages of Piddletrenthide and Piddlehinton.  Needless to say, all this provides much fodder for mildly off-colour humour, to kids of all ages...

The river also flows through a bunch of villages whose names feature not "Piddle," but "Puddle": Puddletown, Tolpuddle, Affpuddle, Briantspuddle, and Turners Puddle. Apparently there is a local tradition (suspected not to be true) that these places used to have "Piddle" names too, but were renamed to avoid embarrassment before a visit by Queen Victoria.

RingTailedLemur

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Re: Potter or Putter
« Reply #32 on: November 21, 2012, 04:15:49 AM »
My New English Dictionary published 1936 defines potter as someone who makes pots, and to potter or pottering as moving about aimlessly doing small jobs. The only definition of putter is a type of golf club. I myself potter, and it is only recently that I have read the term " puttering" in books from the US. (I'm in the UK)

Midwest US, here.  We use puttering about.  My 1981 Webster's Dictionary defines putter as, "to move or act aimlessly or idly" with the second definition being "to work at random".  They list TINKER as a synonym and I have heard tinkering about, though tinkering with is more common.  The only definition they give for potter is "one that makes pottery".

In the UK I would not "tinker about" but I might "tinker with" something - that would involve pulling it apart or fiddling with the insides of it in a somewhat random or nonexpert way, usually to fix it.

katycoo

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Re: Potter or Putter
« Reply #33 on: November 21, 2012, 05:39:10 AM »
My New English Dictionary published 1936 defines potter as someone who makes pots, and to potter or pottering as moving about aimlessly doing small jobs. The only definition of putter is a type of golf club. I myself potter, and it is only recently that I have read the term " puttering" in books from the US. (I'm in the UK)

Midwest US, here.  We use puttering about.  My 1981 Webster's Dictionary defines putter as, "to move or act aimlessly or idly" with the second definition being "to work at random".  They list TINKER as a synonym and I have heard tinkering about, though tinkering with is more common.  The only definition they give for potter is "one that makes pottery".

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/potter_1?q=potter
"to move about without hurrying and in a relaxed and pleasant way." 
Notes mostly UK usage, US use 'putter'

http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/potter?q=potter
"occupy oneself in a desultory but pleasant way"

Putter is only defined with respect to the golf club in the Oxford.

Interesting.

Thipu1

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Re: Potter or Putter
« Reply #34 on: November 21, 2012, 11:41:26 AM »
Here in NYC, you 'tinker with' machinery and there is solution to be found.  The old saying was that if you tinker with hardware long enough, it breaks.  If you tinker with software long enough it works. 

'Dithering' refers to useless work that does no good.  A similar term is 'davening'. 

It's a Jewish term connected to the study of Torah but anyone who has tried hard to learn something from a book has done it.  You 'daven' when you start slightly rocking forward and backward while reading.  It's usually involuntary.

In ordinary parlance, davening refers to paying too much attention to something that doesn't need it. 

'Stop Davening over the salad dressing!  it's fine as it is'.

 

baritone108

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Re: Potter or Putter
« Reply #35 on: November 21, 2012, 01:25:32 PM »
'Dithering' refers to useless work that does no good.  A similar term is 'davening'. 

I'm not familiar with Davening but Dithering, here, always refers to a verbal action.  Generally it's when someone is trying to say something but stumbling over themselves to get it right and so making no sense.  The frustrated/confused listener would ask, "What are you dithering on about?"

katycoo

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Re: Potter or Putter
« Reply #36 on: November 21, 2012, 08:09:57 PM »
'Dithering' refers to useless work that does no good.  A similar term is 'davening'. 

I'm not familiar with Davening but Dithering, here, always refers to a verbal action.  Generally it's when someone is trying to say something but stumbling over themselves to get it right and so making no sense.  The frustrated/confused listener would ask, "What are you dithering on about?"

It can be both in Australia but physical is more common here.

kglory

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Re: Potter or Putter
« Reply #37 on: November 25, 2012, 11:58:51 PM »
To me, davening means praying.  It is a Yiddish word meaning "to pray".

I'm American and Jewish and have never heard it used to mean puttering/pottering about.  So the usage may be regional.  I wouldn't advise someone to use "davening" for this definition this unless they were sure their audience shared the same slang meaning -- otherwise, it could be seen as disrespectful.

Thipu1

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Re: Potter or Putter
« Reply #38 on: November 26, 2012, 10:03:24 AM »
Agreed.  Davening in the sense of praying deserves respect.

In the sense of paying too much attention to something that doesn't need it the term is only used among family and very close friends.  In NYC, some terms are just too good to ignore. 

Some years ago, a couple we know were flying on EL AL.  They were asked if they wanted to be seated in the Davening or non-Davening section.  That was a first. 

Sharnita

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Re: Potter or Putter
« Reply #39 on: November 28, 2012, 06:02:13 PM »
I'm a Californian who is also a potter who used to putter in her studio a lot.  Not so much anymore, sadly.  I don't piddle, but I do piddle around. Faffing sounds like passing gas to me.

So does pootling.

LibraryLady

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Re: Potter or Putter
« Reply #40 on: November 29, 2012, 02:45:13 PM »
piddle [ˈpɪdəl]
vb
1. (intr) Informal to urinate
2. (when tr, often foll by away) to spend (one's time) aimlessly; fritter
[origin unknown]
piddler  n

Collins English Dictionary Complete and Unabridged HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003


I rest my case   ;)   It can be used in both ways.  I also found it used like this in the Merriam Webster Dictionary online; it said the first
use was in 1545 (how do they know so precisely  ??? ).   :)

shadowfox79

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Re: Potter or Putter
« Reply #41 on: November 30, 2012, 05:58:14 AM »
'Dithering' refers to useless work that does no good.  A similar term is 'davening'. 

I'm not familiar with Davening but Dithering, here, always refers to a verbal action.  Generally it's when someone is trying to say something but stumbling over themselves to get it right and so making no sense.  The frustrated/confused listener would ask, "What are you dithering on about?"

It can be both in Australia but physical is more common here.

I've never asked someone what they were "dithering on about" but I do tend to associate it with some speech, at least. Such as two lecturers I've worked with who come into the office and take half an hour to ask a question. That's dithering.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Potter or Putter
« Reply #42 on: November 30, 2012, 09:55:39 AM »
'Pottering' or 'puttering' about in the kitchen would both be understood here.  However, we'd be more likely to use 'futzing'.  Any of these terms mean doing trivial tasks such as folding dish towels, rearranging the implement jar or sharpening knives that don't really need sharpening. 

It's the sort of nervous thing that people do when company is expected and all the important work is done. 

'Puttering' always reminds me of the sort of noise that a small engine that isn't yet working makes.  A lawn mower putters before it actually starts mowing.  A motorcycle putters before the ride begins.

This.  If I heard or read pottering I'd think some one was making pottery.

amandaelizabeth

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Re: Potter or Putter
« Reply #43 on: December 05, 2012, 04:15:13 PM »
There is also  puttering about, which means using a vehicle of low horse power.  Dithering usually means that you are unable to make a decision about what to do next.  And then of course there is 'blithering' which usually precedes 'idiot'.

squeakers

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Re: Potter or Putter
« Reply #44 on: December 06, 2012, 09:04:20 AM »
There is also  puttering about, which means using a vehicle of low horse power.  Dithering usually means that you are unable to make a decision about what to do next.  And then of course there is 'blithering' which usually precedes 'idiot'.

Another word: Blathering.. to babble on and on foolishly.  http://www.thefreedictionary.com/blathering has a ton of synonyms like ramble, yap, drivel.

I am guessing which usage one uses depends on where you grew up.  As in what ethnicity was most abundant so their typical word gets into the language the most.  Sometimes in the original language and sometimes in the translated. And then there would be words from your FoO that get passed down (sometimes the words get mispronounced over the years making it difficult to trace what the original word was but knowing the meaning and maybe the native tongue can usually get the correct word.)
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