Maureen Dowd quoted Bill Maher’s description of Chris Christie as “350 pounds of toast,” in her article titled, “Christie puts the gloves on” in New York Times (February 22):

“I tend to agree with Bill Maher that Christie is “350 pounds of toast,” and that he should have run for president in 2012 when he had “that new candidate smell” because “the longer you stay in the more likely some bad thing will stick to you.”


The article of Daily KOS (February 15) titled “Bill Maher says Governor Christie is "350 pounds of toast" shows a cartoon of Chris Christie being toasted on toaster.

Cambridge English Dictionary simply defines ‘toast’ as; sliced bread made warm, crisp, and brown by being put near a high heat:

However, Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘toast’’ as a noun to mean a person or thing that is very popular or held in high regard by a particular group of people, beside the common notion of “sliced bread browned on both sides by exposure to radiant heat, such as a grill or fire.”

Does “toast’ have the meaning of a people being examined or grilled. What does “toast” here mean? “condemnation” or “praise”?

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    Last year, he was the toast of the town. Today, he's just toast. – Peter Shor Feb 23 '14 at 14:06

The real OED has this definition as a 2002 addition:

Frequently in proleptic use, especially in you're (also I'm, we're, etc.) toast:

you (I, we, etc.) will soon be dead, in trouble, etc.

So what the writer means is simply that Chris Christie's presidential ambitions are doomed.

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    Don't forget that the number is a fat joke. As a metaphor it's highly mixed. – Ryan Reich Feb 23 '14 at 17:10

The usefulness of the 'toast' comparison draws on the fact that toasted bread easily morphs from being desirable (when it is properly heated) to being very undesirable (if it gets overheated and chars). At that point it becomes good for nothing. Dowd's piece subtly suggests that Christie (and by implication, his career) now stinks like burned toast when she quotes Bill Maher's remark that

he should have run for president in 2012 when he had “that new candidate smell”

Incidentally, the other type of toast (as in "He's the toast of the town") refers to the custom of communally toasting a person's health or well-being by raising a glass of a (usually alcoholic) drink, uttering some words to match the occasion, and only then putting the glass to one's lips.

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As a supplement to Barrie England's correct answer, the detailed origin of toast as a proleptic construction—that is to say, one that offers a foregone conclusion as the present state, along the lines of you're history—is somewhat fascinating.

The earliest citation in the OED is from the screenplay for the 1984 film Ghostbusters, where the actual words spoken were:

This chick is toast.

From that line, popular culture picked up the term in poleptic form and adopted it greedily.

However, OED notes that much of the film was ad-libbed and that the original screenplay did not employ this proleptic construction.

Okay. That's it! I'm gonna turn this guy into toast.

So this sense of the word toast, which permeates casual writing and speech in American English, appears to have been the result of actor Bill Murray's improvisation.

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