Recently I have read, or re-read, a number of the old thrillers by Manning Coles. In the book With Intent to Deceive (1947—published in the United States as A Brother for Hugh), I ran into this bit of filler that puzzled me completely:

“Mr. Quint,” began Bagshott.
“Samuel Quint. Don’t know if my parents had a strong sense of humor or none at all.”
Bagshott smiled politely.

None of my dictionaries of books of slang have offered any hints as to why that name would be considered humorous, but I admit that I have never been good at word-play. English nicknames can range from subtle to silly, which doesn't help! Any ideas?

  • If it were a later book, I could see him joking about being named after the Jaws character. As it is, I have one very faint idea. Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 21:20
  • FWIW, Goodreads states that A Brother for Hugh was the original English title. Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 21:27
  • We can assume that his parents chose his first name but didn't chose his last name. So it must relate to the choice of first name.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


I don't see any immediate allusions that come to mind, Samuel being a common name, and Quint being somewhat uncommon but not unknown surname. In the game of piquet, the terms is sometimes used to refer to a five card straight flush or as a shortened version of "quintuplet". The surname derives from Middle English Quient, or Old French Cointe or Cuinte with a meaning of "Wise Prudent; Crafty Sly; Elegant; Vain", but that would be just the last name.

The only other thing I can think of is that he is referring to that his initialism, "S. Quint" could be read as the English word "squint" as in to peer closely.

  • 3
    The joke is definitely Squint.
    – Pete
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 2:59
  • 1
    The answer is clever, and I doubt I'll ever hear a better. Although I still wish I'd asked the question back when I first read the book: one of the older generation — people who had lived through the period — might have had another answer. On the other hand, their answer might have been wrong all the same!
    – Barnaby
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 0:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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