The Info List - Patter

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PATTER is a prepared and practiced speech that is designed to produce a desired response from its audience. Examples of occupations with a patter might include the auctioneer , salesperson , dance caller , magician , or comedian .

The term may have been a colloquial shortening of "Pater Noster ", and may have referred to the practice of mouthing or mumbling prayers quickly and mechanically.

From this, it became a slang word for the secret and equally incomprehensible mutterings of a cant language used by beggars, thieves, gypsies, etc., and then the fluent plausible talk that a cheap-jack employs to pass off his goods. Many illusionists , e.g., card magicians , use patter both to enhance the show and to distract the attention of the spectators.

It is thus also used of any rapid manner of talking, and of a patter-song , in which a very large number of words have to be sung at high speed to fit the music. A western square dance caller may interpolate patter — in the form of metrical lines, often of nonsense — to fill in between commands to the dancers.

In some circumstances, the talk becomes a different sense of "patter": to make a series of rapid strokes or pats, as of raindrops. Here it a form of onomatopeia .

In certain forms of entertainment, peep shows (in the historical meaning) and Russian rayok , patter is an important component of a show. The radio DJ patter is among the roots of rapping .

In hypnotherapy , the hypnotist uses a 'patter' or script to deliver positive suggestions for change to the client.

In London Labour and the London Poor , Henry Mayhew
Henry Mayhew
divides the street-sellers of his time into two groups: the patterers, and everyone else.


This article includes a list of references , but ITS SOURCES REMAIN UNCLEAR because it has INSUFFICIENT INLINE CITATIONS . Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (February 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message )

* ^ Square Dance Patter Sayings Vic & Debbie Ceder's Square Dance Resource Net. * ^ "The Gentleman Grafter" by Howard Kaplan, May 2006. Vanity Fair


* This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Patter". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge Univers