President Obama said he took “a shellacking” from voters in last week’s elections. I’ve never used the term myself and, except for possibly one woodworking project at Roeper day camp in 1965 , I don’t think I’ve ever given anything a good shellacking.
But all that is changing. From now on, I’m going to pepper my conversation with “a good shellacking.” It seems enormously fun to say.
Shellacking, meaning to take a beating, apparently grew out of 1920s slang. And shellac, that liquid finish I brushed onto my wood project in the 1960s, “is a kind of resin made from the secretions of a tropical insect known as the lac,” Ben Zimmer writes in “The Story Behind Obama’s ‘Shellacking’ “
If that isn’t creepy enough, according to “What is the wood sealer shellac made from and where does it come from?” those secretions are flaky.
You might be thinking that this is too much information, but there really is so much more to know. You can make your own shellac. And apparently those shellac 78 rpm records were not made entirely of shellac.
You can learn about shellac from a 2nd Amendment point of view at “The C&R Riflestock Cleaning and Preservation Forum,” where you’ll also become acquainted with the community’s lingo through comments like, “That would beat the heck out of the monkey tails the Ruskies are using to shellac some of those Albanian stocks I’ve seen lately!”
And if you’ve read this far, chances are you feel like you’ve taken a good shellacking.