ham·​fat·​ter | \ ˈham-ˌfa-tər How to pronounce hamfatter (audio) \
plural hamfatters

Definition of hamfatter

dated slang
: a showy and unskillful performer : ham "I'm afraid I will be unable to take the part, Bill," Boland replied seriously. "You see, they pay me about five hundred dollars a night for acting, and I couldn't work for less. You didn't know that, of course, so I think you'd better engage a hamfatter after all."— Peter B. Kyne

First Known Use of hamfatter

1874, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hamfatter

ham fat + -er entry 2; allegedly after "The Ham Fat Man," a minstrel show song (1863)

Note: The connection between the song and unskilled performers is not apparent. Though minstrel shows were in decline at the time hamfatter first appeared in print, the claim that the song was emblematic of such shows, which were equated with low standards of performance, is questionable. The notion that poor, hence impoverished performers used ham fat to either put on or remove makeup is dubious at best.

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The first known use of hamfatter was in 1874

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Cite this Entry

“Hamfatter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hamfatter. Accessed 27 Sep. 2020.

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