9

About twenty years ago I overheard a girl from the north of England laughingly advise a friend to get ready for a night out by telling her to 'slap some tut on your face'. She clearly meant 'put on some make-up'.
I had already heard an Australian informally use the same, or a similar-sounding word, 'tut', to mean 'toilet'.

I have also seen it defined on a website of British slang as: 'tut Noun. Rubbish, nonsense. E.g."Whatever he told you about me is just a load of tut." or "I think we need to clear up all this tut before your parents arrive."

Are the three meanings of make-up, toilet and rubbish linked by some excremental ur-word, and if so does anyone know the origin?

  • 3
    (not a BrE speaker) Allow for the possibility that even if 'tut' as used by the friend might be a synonym for 'shit' or 'rubbish', it could be used figuratively for 'makeup' That is, makeup is not necessarily a synonym of 'tut', just that 'tut' is a filler word like 'stuff' or 'thing'. 'Slap some tut on your face 'could easily denote 'put something on your face'. – Mitch Feb 20 '14 at 13:42
  • 4
    I think the tut=rubbish sense is probably either a variant or a mishearing/mistranscription of tat. – FumbleFingers Feb 20 '14 at 13:52
  • 2
    (Get some) slap [ie makeup] on t't face? – peterG Feb 20 '14 at 23:53
  • 1
    The Australian may have said toot, rather than tut. Toot is Australian slang for toilet, although I don't think it is very common. collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/toot – JessWelch Feb 22 '14 at 6:59
  • 1
    But then to my astonishment I find Mary Portas, quoted in the Guardian, Sat 17th May2014: "when I read some niggly little bit of tut in the paper that 'they've spent £250 learning how to gift wrap'" – peterG May 21 '14 at 12:36
1

It would be nice if you could ask her, but 20 years later that seems difficult. To me it could have referred to the meaning "shit" as in "Just put some shit on your face and let's go!" but the speaker was in fact referring to makeup but didn't really care or wasn't interested in the result or any backtalk from the intended recipient :) (Canadian speaker but never heard the word before.)

0

The origin of the word 'tut' as a noun is, as of yet, unknown. The OED entry for Tut says:

Etymology: There is perhaps more than one word here. Of the origin nothing has been ascertained.

However, the use of the word 'tut' in the 'rubbish' sense may be supported by this definition from the OED:

a. Orig. in the Cornish tin-mines, now also in Derbyshire lead-mining: in the phrase upon tut (also by the tut), and attrib. as tut-bargain, tut-man, tut-work (also as vb.), tut-worker, tut-working, tut-workman: denoting a system of payment by measurement or by the piece, adopted in paying for work which brings no immediate returns, as distinct from tribute n. 3; hence, work of this character; dead-work.

The OED takes less of a cop-out on Tut, v. saying:

Etymology: A natural utterance; the spelling tut sometimes represents the palatal click (also spelt tchick n., tck int.).

Which may also explain the etymology of the slang word - being something that is just replaced for a word that is better left unsaid - a sort of self-censorship of more appropriate or cruder language.

Ultimately my guess would be that it's some combination of the two.

  • I wondered if there was some remote connection to 'toute', which was used in Chaucer for 'buttocks, posterior, rump'. Acc. OED that derives from the root 'tut', 'to stick out or project'. A long time later I know, but in Victorian times those who scoured dust-heaps for recyclable refuse referred to bones as 'tots'; by 1880 any retrievable items you could pick out of rubbish were also called 'tots' (hence 'totting', and 'totter' as in Steptoe and Son. Ignore that ref if you aren't British). Maybe the sense shifted from items found in rubbish to rubbish itself, and a general sense of 'crap'? – slam Feb 22 '14 at 18:10
  • Pavja2, your explanation is the best I've come across for this word tut/toot (rhyming with 'put') I've used on a very frequent basis all my life. A few years ago I discovered that the vaste majority of people where I live (in Brighton, home to people from all over UK) do not know the word. I am from Essex and it's very commonly used there , to mean rubbish or, perjoratively, your own or someone else's belongings. "Your car's full of tut". I have deduced that it is a Cockney term as the people I've come across who do know it are from areas to which there's been London migration.(Mary Portas is – user181560 Jun 19 '16 at 12:38

protected by user140086 Jun 19 '16 at 21:38

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.