sparrow-fart

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From sparrow + fart.
In the dawn sense, apparently UK dialect (Yorkshire) from ante 1828.[1]

  • Possibly from earlier British Army usage, from Urdu [script?] (sawayray, early).

Alternative forms[edit]

Noun[edit]

sparrow-fart (uncountable) (plural attested only as sparrowfarts)

  1. (uncountable, UK, Australia, slang) A time very early in the day; dawn.
    • 1993, Patti Walkuski, No Bed of Roses: Memoirs of a Madam, page 111,
      “I was sick of working from sparrow fart as station cook and general dogs-body.”
    • 2005, Alexander Fullerton, Non-Combatants, Hachette UK, unnumbered page,
      ‘Took a girl to the flicks, had to get her back to Birkenhead, some goon in a tin hat and armband ordered us to take shelter in the Underground. No bloody option. So I didn′t get her home until sparrow-fart and her father didn′t believe us, turned quite nasty.’
    • 2005, Edward Canfor-Dumas, The Buddha, Geoff and Me: A Modern Story, page 110,
      I′d got up at sparrow-fart and schlepped out there on the train, because Piers had been coming from Oxford and couldn′t give me a lift.
    • 2012, Gerald Seymour, The Outsiders, Hachette UK, unnumbered page,
      ‘Tomorrow. Sleep over, then off at sparrow-fart. And the car will have plates.’
  2. (countable) A person or thing of no consequence.
    • 1922, James Joyce Ulysses, Episode 18: Penelope,
      [] Miss This Miss That Miss Theother lot of sparrowfarts skitting around talking about politics they know as much about as my backside []
    • 1965, Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, 2011, unnumbered page,
      ‘The hell with the talented sparrowfarts who write delicately of one small piece of one mere lifetime, when the issues are galaxies, eons, and trillions of souls yet to be born.’

Usage notes[edit]

The sense is also rendered in non-idiomatic constructions such as “when the sparrow farts.”

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 2007, Nigel Rees, A Word In Your Shell-Like, states the definition “break of day” is included in 1828, William Carr, The Dialect of Craven [Horæ momenta Cravenæ], ISBN 978-0-554-43398-1.