Pretentious Pontifications: The word of the day

Last Updated on September 30, 2010 by Dave Farquhar

The word if the day is “gat.” I understand that David’s boss did not know what that means. I take that as a sign of aristocracy, for among gentlemen, only those with a love of linguistics tend to know the meaning of words utilized by rabble like my black-sheep brother David.
I trust I need no introduction. I am R. Collins Farquhar IV, David’s consanguineous twin brother. I got the good genes. David, if you are wondering, is not here tonight, so I took it upon myself to fill in for him. My best guess is that he is out trying to buy a “gat.” I understand they are available relatively inexpensively in the neighborhood surrounding the building where he works.

The word is commonly heard on the streets, where I am sure my impecunious brother would gladly spend much of his time if his boss did not keep a very tight leash on him. But I propound that the word actually has a quite fascinating history, which is very unusual for the topics David brings up. So I will take this time to share a descant with you.

The patent for the first practical machine gun was granted on the 4th of November of the year 1862 CE to Dr. Richard J. Gatling. The Gatling Gun stayed in use until 1911 CE. Although little more than a gewgaw today, the Gatling Gun was revolutionary in its time.

Some simpleton historians suggest Dr. Gatling’s goal was to obviate war by making it so devastating that men would no longer melee. Of course, that did not happen. Just ask the French, who succeeded in having themselves overrun and devastated twice in the 20th century CE and had to be bailed out by the Scots, many of whom had to come back across the Atlantic from America to do it.

Dr. Gatling was a doctor, as in medical doctor. Watching the dead return from the Civil War, he noticed that a small percentage actually died of gunshots. It was apparent to his eye that the most parlous thing about war was disease, not bullets.

In a letter dated 1877 CE, he wrote: “It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine–a gun–which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease [would] be greatly diminished.”

He was irrefragably right about exposure to disease. His theory about battle was less considerably cogent. He would have learned, had be bothered to ask me, that exposure to battle was not as easy to cure.

While the Gatling gun is no longer in use, the word “gat” came to be a slang phrase, generally meaning “handgun” or “pistol.” You still hear the word used in the streets today. Or so my sources tell me.

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7 thoughts on “Pretentious Pontifications: The word of the day

  • February 13, 2003 at 11:04 pm


    We want to hear about your gat! Whaddya get? Is there a range nearby where you can practice? A field of gophers?

  • February 13, 2003 at 11:37 pm

    R. Collins, you’ve apparently been sampling from your personal still again. I believe the firearm prominently sold in David’s neighborhood is the “glock”. Though not an abbreviated form of “glockenspiel”, it is still vulgar German in derivation. I would have expected you to know that, being a collector of similar weapons. Perchance you could explain to me sometime the gun with “Buckmaster” on the stock strapped to a rack atop your limosine.

    Your assertion that the Scottish fight as well as the French think is strangely insightful. I needn’t go into any details, as the history speaks for itself.

    A final note about Gatling that R. Collins omitted: his descendants formed a popular singing group, the Gatling Brothers.

  • February 14, 2003 at 6:32 am

    I would like to call to your attention the fact that the Gatling Gun (in an improved version) IS still in use today. Apparently you have not seen “Predator” the movie, in which Jessie “The Body” Ventura cleared acres of jungle vegetation with a hand-held version of the modern-day Gatling Gun. I believe it is known as The Vulcan system today. It is currently mounted and being used in some of our combat aircraft. The caliber has been enlarged to 20MM and the feeding mechanism has been changed to something other than a very limited “clip” but by-in-large, it’s yet a Gatling Gun.

    I am very confident that if one had enough money, such a weapon could be purchased on the street. It would be a “gang-banger’s” dream for use in a drive-by. Not only could one take-out a member of another Gang but at the same time, they could level a Crackhouse or two and wipe out some of the competition.

  • February 14, 2003 at 8:25 am

    While RCIV was speculating I was “out trying to buy a ‘gat’,” I was, unlike certain pretentious people I know who don’t seem to be able hold down a pair of shoes, let alone a job, working late. Then I had to stop off at the store to buy something–not a gat, not something for my consanguineous twin brother, and not something for my twin brother who’s not blood-related to me either. (The selection of words of the day must have been fairly thin last night.)

    So, I still don’t own a gat, and no, there aren’t any gophers to practice on and I don’t know where to find a shooting range, although I understand people holding guns do sometimes show up on RCIV’s front lawn.

    And Clarence, I must say that’s the first time I’ve ever seen RCIV refuted by citing a Schwarzenegger movie. Good job! I’m sure that’s even more humiliating than being overrun by Germany twice in the same century.

  • February 15, 2003 at 12:26 am

    Buckmasterfullerine = round carbon buckshot for a Buckmaster?

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