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  1. #1
    Kotfor is offline Member
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    Default an idiot of a salesman

    There is such a phrase.

    Is that idiot of a salesman calling again?

    Will the meaning be changed if we say

    Is that salesman of an idiot calling again?

  2. #2
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
    Chicken Sandwich is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: an idiot of a salesman

    NOT A TEACHER

    The second one doesn't make sense to me.

    As you said, the first one is idiomatic: an idiot of a salesman, an idiot of a lawyer, an idiot of a doctor, and so on.

  3. #3
    Kotfor is offline Member
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    Default Re: an idiot of a salesman

    My fuzzy logic.

    A man of importance = 1) First, he is a man 2) he becomes important. (not vice versa )

    An idiot of a salesman = 1) First, he becomes an idiot 2) and only after he becomes an idiot he may become a salesman.

    I understand that this may not look persuasive, but may be there is something in it. Anyway, I get it.

  4. #4
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
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    Default Re: an idiot of a salesman

    Quote Originally Posted by Kotfor View Post
    My fuzzy logic.

    An idiot of a salesman = 1) First, he becomes an idiot 2) and only after he becomes an idiot he may become a salesman.
    NOT A TEACHER

    No, it doesn't work that way. "An idiot of a salesman" just means that the salesman is an idiot. It doesn't mean that s/he was an idiot prior to becoming a salesman. It's possible that s/he was an idiot prior to becoming a salesman, but that's not the intended meaning of the phrase.

    P.S. More precisely, as emsr2d2 said below, s/he is an idiotic salesman. Of course, it's possible that the "idiot of a salesman" is not an idiot when it comes to other aspects of life.
    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 21-Oct-2012 at 23:36. Reason: rewrite + P.S.

  5. #5
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: an idiot of a salesman

    Effectively, it means that he's an idiotic salesman.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  6. #6
    Kotfor is offline Member
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    Default Re: an idiot of a salesman

    Are there any similar phrases without the word idiot though?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: an idiot of a salesman

    And that fool of a doctor never thought to ask her what other medications she was taking.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  8. #8
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
    Chicken Sandwich is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: an idiot of a salesman

    NOT A TEACHER

    "moron of a doctor" also works. Other synonyms of "idiot" can also be used.
    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 22-Oct-2012 at 00:32.

  9. #9
    MartinEnglish is offline Member
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    Default Re: an idiot of a salesman

    It's usually pejorative:
    That bitch of a nurse said that...
    That fool of a manager told me that...
    In my last job I had a wanker of a boss who..

    etc ad nauseum
    I can't think of any positive versions! It's an interesting point, never thought about it before.

  10. #10
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: an idiot of a salesman

    That peach of a girl
    That sweetheart of a nurse
    The gem of a teacher

    It works both ways.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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