Currently reading The Golem by Gustav Meyrink and have encountered this sentence:

“Prokop’s noble specimen of the hatter’s art is tempted to fly away”, said Zwakh, pointing to the musician’s huge floppy hat, the broad brim of which was beginning to flap like a pair of black wings.”

Can someone explain the meaning of “the hatter’s art”?

  • 4
    Hatters make hats, and that is their art. The floppy hat was an example. Jul 12, 2022 at 14:56
  • Use of a name for a trade or practitioner of a trade with the word art refers to the actions and skills involved. The art of the blacksmith/farrier/woodcarver/hunter/tracker, etc; or the hunter's/blacksmith's .. art. It's a semipoetic phrase that allows nonce generalizations instead of technical terms.
    – John Lawler
    Jul 12, 2022 at 23:30

2 Answers 2


It's irony... The hat is huge and floppy, and the speaker ironically attributes its eccentricity to the 'art' of making hats.

Cambridge defines art as

the making of objects, images, music, etc. that are beautiful or that express feelings


a skill or special ability.

Another example of ironic use is

Getting him to go out is quite an art (= needs special skill).


This use of "art" has nothing to do with the general concept of "art" (as in painting, scupture, music, etc.) It is the art in the meaning of "skill and craftsmanship"

See OED:

  1. Skill in doing something, esp. as the result of knowledge or practice.

1939 Times 21 Aug. 15/4 There is great art in jack throwing, and the jack should not come to rest at less than 25 yards.

See also: "The Art of the Deal" by Donald Trump · 2016 / "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu 5th Century BCE, etc.

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