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Certain people or groups are so identifiable with an idea that their name becomes a shorthand verb encompassing the idea. Consider being "Borked" or "swift-boated." Well, I'd like to suggest another:

To Berlusconi: To act in the most egregiously juvenile manner while in a position of utmost authority without ever suffering the slightest consequences.

Of course, the verb would indicate something you do to other people, rather than something they do to you. Buck the odds, break the rules and tell everyone who would hold you responsible to bugger off - and get away with it - and you've Berlusconied them!

I'm not certain if he is the fox or the hedgehog, but il caveliere (the knight, as he is formally titled) takes the Teflon Presidency to undreamed heights. He has weathered scandals related to politics, finances, influence, mobsters, dictators, Islam, sex with prostitution, sex with minors and just plain old sex. Last month, at 74, he introduced "bunga-bunga" to the world - contributing his own Afro-sexual research to the global deposit of erotic terminology. And his prevailing defense has been: You wish you were me!

Today he did it again: Berlusconi survived another vote of no confidence, retaining his hold as Italy's second longest serving PM. Ironically, despite his utter unpredictability, Berlusconi has provided Italy with its longest run of political stability in recent times - pretty much simply because he refuses to go away!

How bland the world would seem if Berlusconi had gone the way of the Dodo.

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Discussions - 10 Comments

I was going to say that in American political vocabulary, Bill Clinton had already beat him to the punch . . . but Berlusconi makes Bill Clinton look like a piker, doesn't he?

He is certainly one of the most entertaining world leaders out there right now.
Gives the Italians something to get riled about too. In the past month both the Colosseum in Rome and the Leaning Tower in Pisa have been occupied by protesting students, as well as various train stations and plazas, and there have been marches and rallies in Florence against his government-- though nothing near as crazy as down in Rome. Fun stuff!

Two words in one day - first bunga-bunga and now piker. Am I so very old that I can't follow along with common parlance any longer...?

For piker, you're too young, Mr. Paulette.

From the OED, a piker has somehwat varied sources, the original being somone like the guys in Monty Python's Holy Grail who ran around with pikes. The most American definition of the OED list was this: " A poor white migrant from the southern states of the U.S. (originally Pike County, Missouri); (hence) a member of a poor underclass, a vagrant or petty criminal" which corresponds nicely. Although which came first to English, "piker, the guy with a pike" (1590) or "person from Pike County" (1859) is easy to see. This leaves me wondering in Pike County was titled as a pointed reference to the quality of the inhabitants.

It is a colloquialism, but not exactly common parlance anymore. Julie's no piker when it comes to words.

Berlusconi's term -- that's all his. Yes, he is amusing, but he always looks to me like he's already been embalmed. Did Lazarus look like that?

Try this broad and perhaps baseless observation about Italian politics on for size:

The Italian left from 1945 on has been so extreme (quite seriously communist, even into the 80s) and so irresponsible that the response of the sane majority was first, to tolerate what became the systemic corruption of the Christian Democrats, and in our day, to tolerate the personal corruption of one Berlusconi.

Embarrassed, actually, to say that I thought a "piker" was a small fish! With the OED vindicating me like that, however, perhaps I should have just pretended to be smug . . .

Julie, in a sense it is a small fish (although a pike is a bigger fish and predatory) since petty crooks and low-life characters are comparable to small fry in the social order. A fisherman could not literally call a small fish a piker, but a little literary license is always a pleasure to conversation.

Carl Eric Scott, that statement seems fitting to me. Whatever his personal embarrassments, he must seem better than his competitors. Isn't that a frightening idea?

I don't mean to be a Piker, hanging with you big dawgs(sharks) of vocabulary...

But according to Poker lingo, Julie is right. In texas holdem poker talk a "Piker" is a smaller fry gambler. While a pike is a rather large and predatory fish, a pike is diminutive when compared to a shark. So a pike is a big fish in a small pond. Or basically the idea of someone who thinks highly of himself because he plays poker and does well in small games. It was easier for the pro's to play against Piker's who had built up self-confidence from small limit victories.Of course one the main event of the world series got big enough all the piker's started winning it. Jamie Gold for example is a Piker, He won 7 million in the main event but eventually lost most of it in the higher stake games.

Being a "piker" isn't really an insult, it means you have some skill level and some level of luck, but that you can't hang with the big boys. A Shark playing 1-2 No Limit Holdem is probably a Piker at 5-10 No Limit Holdem.

Basically the Big Pro's (those who write books) consider all of us decent low level players to be Pikers, if we play above our limit.

Basically the difference between a Shark and a Piker is that the Shark knows when he is a Piker, and the Piker always thinks he is the Shark.

Ah! Poker's Piker -- surely about the same thing, only lacking the criminal element.

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