I was drawn to the word, “classless” in Carolyn Hax’s answer to a reader in the counseling corner of Washington Post (June 7), which comes under the title, “How do you get back at a loudmouth? By letting the boor talk.”
Asker: What to do, as a full-grown adult, when a classless coward makes a loud, public and derogatory comment about your mother after your unknowing mother walked out of the restaurant, where this person and party were coincidentally seated near us?
Carolyn Hax: If you want to take down a “classless coward,” then give her a megaphone and let her dismantle herself. With no amplifying equipment handy, it’s okay just to let rude people think they won, to have faith that people of character know a boor when they hear one and to trust you won’t implode waiting for the vengeful urges to pass.
I’m inclined to associate the word “classless” in the above quote with the Japanese expression, “どこの馬の骨とも解らぬ人-Dokono-uma-no hone"- A person like a bone of horse who comes from an unknown family - meaning a person whose family line and social class are unknown, therefore boorish or untrustworthy. Yesteryears’ parents wouldn’t have agreed their daughter to marry a lad like a “bone of horse”.
However as far as I checked CED and OED, the meaning of “classless” is just neutral:
CED defines ‘classless’ as;
- Not belonging to a particular social class
- Having no different social classes
OED defines it as;
- (Of a society) not divided into social classes
- Not showing obvious signs of belonging to a particular social class
Is the word, “classless” just neutral on its implication, or does it have a somewhat negative tone depending on the occasion, as observed in the above example?