A Five-star, Four-flusher of a Word for BSers
I’ve been drowning in bullshit, but in a good way.
In my new book Bullshit: A Lexicon, I discuss common (malarkey, mumbo jumbo) and rare terms (flubdub, meadow mayonnaise) for BS and BSers. When people hear I’ve been spending my time on such a mature, humanitarian endeavor, they often ask what’s my favorite BS word.
I reckon my favorite is four flush and its variations. This is a creative, folksy, all-American term that deserves a comeback – or at least wider use. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) first finds this term back in the late 1800s, and despite your immature mind, it had nothing to with flushing a commode four times because of a bowel movement so apocalyptic it was foretold in the Book of Revelations. Rather, the term comes from poker. If you have a four flush, you have four of the cards necessary for a flush. In other words, you don’t have a flush. Therefore, if you bluff with that hand, you’re four-flushing – or four-flushin’, which sounds more properly folksy. And if you become known for this kind of behavior, you’re a four-flusher.
Four-flusher is not super common, but it does turn up here and there:
The TPP negotiations are a high-stakes poker game. There is a lot of speculation in the media — and no shortage of four-flushers.
Sept. 29, 2015, iPolitics
For ballplayers and scribes alike, the goal is not to be a gonniff and lift their heroes’ stuff in the sense of committing larceny in the style of a first-class four flusher.
June 25, 2015, Commonweal
Sir Malcolm is a royal four-flusher when you think about it. He gets to the end of his hand, which he’s bet everything on, his children, his marriage, and he loses.
May 10, 2015, Den of Geek
In my non-hyperbolic opinion, any use or variation of four flush is incredibly awesome and wonderful. For example, the adjective form was well-used during one woman’s quest to date 100 men before settling down with one: “As proof of how not trusting one’s gut can get a person into trouble let me present to you Exhibit 39, Man #39, that is, that No Good, Four Flushin’, Motherfuckin’, Lyin’ Sack of Shit.”
Flushing aside, poker in general has been a godsend to English. If you’ve ever called someone’s bluff, anted up, gone all-in, or gone bust, you’ve used the lingo of poker, which also includes terms such as down and dirty, penny ante, poker face, and blue-chipper.
But four-flusher makes me think there’s even more potential in poker, and particularly in this flushing business. The following are some terms not found in the OED or anywhere, because I just made them up. But I hope to soon find them in your think pieces and hear them in your streetcorner rants.
five-flusher: an honest, successful, fully qualified person.
Example: “As President, I will keep America strong so the whole world knows Uncle Sam is the ultimate five-flusher.”
three-flusher: a moderately successful person who is in the middle of the middle of the road in every way.
Example: “I’ve been in the same job for 10 years. I live in the suburbs. My wife loves me, but my children hate me. I’ve three-flushed away my life.”
two-flusher: pretty much a loser, but possibly one who is good at talking themselves into things they don’t deserve.
Example: “Stay away from my brother Neil. He’s a sweet-talking’, goat-ropin’, two-flushin’ varmint.”
one-flusher: a loser, but also maybe an amazing bluffer. Could apply to someone who is a great success without any merits.
Example: “Critics often observe that reality television is full of one-flushers.”
no-flusher: Someone so hopeless they don’t even understand the rules of poker or life. If you don’t even have one part of a flush, the space-time continuum may be broken and you could be playing poker with Jenga blocks instead of cards.
Example: “My Uncle Ted is a bit of a no-flusher. His tinfoil hat is made of pumpernickel.”