sinners


sinners
   Used by evangelical orators when addressing their congregations, in the sure knowledge that the description accurately describes most of those listening.
   ‘Sinners and brothers, let us pray,’ says such a speaker in Brothers’ Keepers, by Frank Smith. ‘You miserable sinners’ is used by a religious fanatic in Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. ‘My friends and fellow-sinners’ is used to begin a sermon in George Silverman’s Explanation, by Charles Dickens. This same author has a rather more unusual example of ‘you wenerable [venerable] sinner’, addressed to a man who is supposedly looking at the young women who are nearby. The incident occurs in The Pickwick Papers, by Charles Dickens.
   In the same novel the hypocritical Mr Stiggins, otherwise known as the Shepherd, calls Mr Weller Senior ‘a miserable sinner’. Mr Weller responds by knocking him to the floor, not appreciating the term.
   In Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, by Alan Sillitoe, ‘you dirty sinner’ is addressed by the hero to himself as he thinks about his adulterous acts with a married woman. He is talking to the woman’s husband at the time.

A dictionary of epithets and terms of address . . 2015.

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