5

In the short story "The Most Dangerous Game" (1924) by Richard Connell, Zaroff says

I hunt the scum of the earth: sailors from tramp ships—lassars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels—a thoroughbred horse or hound is worth more than a score of them.

What does lassars mean?

  • 5
    This is probably a misspelling or corruption of lascar, a kind of sailor. – Robusto Aug 1 '19 at 18:57
  • I'm pretty sure I've seen a word quite similar to "lassar" used to refer to a leper. – Hot Licks Oct 28 '19 at 17:53
  • Ah, yes -- words like "lazar" and "lazaretto", derived from the name of the biblical figure Lazarus, are sometimes used to refer to leper colonies. – Hot Licks Oct 29 '19 at 0:42
7

This is either a transcription error or a deliberate corruption that was changed in other editions. In various versions of the text you can find on the web, for example, in a lesson in the Holt Elements of Literature, the quote is rendered

I hunt the scum of the earth—sailors from tramp ships—lascars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels—a thoroughbred horse or hound is worth more than a score of them.

That same source identifies lascar as an East Indian sailor employed on a European ship. The OED defines a lascar or Lascar more broadly as any East Indian sailor, tracing it to an erroneous European use of the Urdu lashkar or lashkari, dating in English to about 1625.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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