In Saki's Beasts and Super-Beasts he refers to "Nuts" and "Super-Nuts". For example, we have

“You are not going to be what they call a Nut, are you?” she inquired with some anxiety, partly with the idea that a Nut would be an extravagance which her sister’s small household would scarcely be justified in incurring, partly, perhaps, with the instinctive apprehension that a Nut, even in its embryo stage, would refuse to carry parcels.

in The Dreamer and

He was a youngish man of ordinary appearance, quiet of dress and unobtrusive of manner, and he could never wholly rid himself of the idea that a fierce light of public scrutiny beat on him as though he had been a notability or a super-nut.

in A Holiday Task.

I suspect this usage would have briefly fashionable, prior to the First World War, when the stories were first published in the Morning Post.

So what is meant by "nut"?


1 Answer 1


nut, n. 6.c. British slang. A fashionable or showy young man. Cf. knut n., nutty adj. 4. Obsolete.

1904   in Notes & Queries (1913) 26 July 78/1   I'm one of the nuts, one of the nibs.
1913   Punch 12 Feb. 115/1   Spring socks will be black and Spring ties a quiet blue. A strike of nuts is expected at any moment.
1920   W. J. Locke House of Baltazar xvii. 205   I've a jolly good mind to set him up regardless, like a pre-war nut—with solid silver boot-trees and the rest to correspond.

Oxford English Dictionary.

A search of the British Newspaper Archive finds that “super-nut” had a brief vogue in 1913–1914, and then vanished rapidly with the coming of the war. This cartoon by Lewis Baumer from Punch for 8th April 1914 gives some idea of what people thought a “super-nut” might look like:

A nervous young man is being fitted with a striped suit by a shop assistant while a smart young man points at him with a stick. The smart young man wears a top-hat, a tight-waited black jacket, striped trousers, patent leather shoes, and has a monocle on a chain. Caption reads, “A special feature of the gent’s ready-to-wear clothing department will be the attendance, daily of a super-“nut” (from the Gaiety or Daly’s), who will give free advice to each purchaser of Easter outfits.”

(The Gaiety and Daly’s were two theatres in the West End of London.)

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