Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Gutter figurative  (metaphoric, not literal)
Eddi was one step ahead of me with his comment on the last post:
You can also talk as if "your mouth is in the gutter" using bad profanity.

I grew in New York City where the word is pronounced gut-tah (no hard r at end) and I remember my mother yelling at me out the window to "stop playing in the gut-tah" since it was the dirtiest part of the street to play in. She wanted me to play on the sidewalk.
Eddi Hasskell

In the gutter
Figurative [of a person] in a low state; poor and homeless. (*Typically: be ~; fall [into] ~; put some-one [into] ~.) You had better straighten out your life, or you'll end in the gutter.
His bad habits put him into the gutter.

In the gutter
Appropriate to or from a squalid, degraded condition. For example, The language in that book belongs in the gutter . An antonym, out of the gutter,  means "away from vulgarity or sordidness," as in That joke was quite innocent; get your mind out of the gutter. This idiom uses gutter in the sense of "a conduit for filthy waste." [Mid-1800s]

Have one's mind in the gutter and have got one's mind in the gutter
Figurative. tending to think of or say things that are obscene. Tiffany has her mind in the gutter. That's why she laughs at all that dirty stuff. Why do you tell so many dirty jokes?
Do you always have your mind in the gutter?

Bob: "Hey kid, let me tell you what a blow job is."
Kid's Mom: "Hey! Is your mind in the gutter perv?!"

Gut's in the gutter
When a person's initial reaction to any given situation or question is either immoral, sexual, impure, or all of the above.

Everytime he's asked a question, his response is so vulgar--must be that his gut's in the gutter!

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. – Oscar Wilde
Lady Windermere's Fan, A Play About a Good Woman is a four-act comedy by Oscar Wilde, first produced 22 February 1892 at the St James's Theatre in London. The play was first published in 1893. Like many of Wilde's comedies, it bitingly satirizes the morals of Victorian society, particularly marriage.
The story concerns Lady Windermere, who discovers that her husband may be having an affair with another woman. She confronts her husband but he instead invites the other woman, Mrs Erlynne, to his wife's birthday ball. Angered by her husband's unfaithfulness, Lady Windermere leaves her husband for another lover. After discovering what has transpired, Mrs Erlynne follows Lady Windermere and attempts to persuade her to return to her husband and in the course of this, Mrs Erlynne is discovered in a compromising position. She sacrifices herself and her reputation in order to save Lady Windermere's marriage as Mrs Erlynne is Lady Windermere’s mother, who abandoned her family twenty years before the time the play is set. Mrs. Erlynne was originated by Marion Terry, and Lady Windermere by Winifred Emery. The best-known line of the play sums up the central theme:

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. —Lord Darlington

Third act
DUMBY. [With a sigh.] Good heavens! how marriage ruins a man! It's as demoralising as cigarettes, and far more expensive.

CECIL GRAHAM. You'll play, of course, Tuppy?

LORD AUGUSTUS. [Pouring himself out a brandy and soda at table.] Can't, dear boy. Promised Mrs. Erlynne never to play or drink again.

CECIL GRAHAM. Now, my dear Tuppy, don't be led astray into the paths of virtue. Reformed, you would be perfectly tedious. That is the worst of women. They always want one to be good. And if we are good, when they meet us, they don't love us at all. They like to find us quite irretrievably bad, and to leave us quite unattractively good.

LORD DARLINGTON. [Rising from R. table, where he has been writing letters.] They always do find us bad!

DUMBY. I don't think we are bad. I think we are all good, except Tuppy.

LORD DARLINGTON. No, we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. [Sits down at C. table.]

DUMBY. We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars? Upon my word, you are very romantic to-night, Darlington.

What does that mean?
Historically, the reference to being in the gutter usually refers to a drunk who is so drunk and unable to control their body that they literally, as well as figuratively, fall down, roll around, and end up in the lowest place available, the gutter. Being in the gutter was an expression of utter despair and hopelessness, of having gone down as low as one could possibly go.

In this case, the quote implies that we are all struggling in our own gutter of sorts, a place where we have nought but despair and hopelessness. The quote, however, differentiates between those who just lay there and bemoan their fate, and those who look up at the stars.

The quote implies that this second group is different, and not just lying there cursing fate. The implication of ‘looking at the stars’ is that they have goals, that the gutter is not their home, and that they have some hope of moving beyond their present circumstances.
From: Twitter, @aQuoteToday

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