1

Persiflage refers to the sort of light banter one just breezes through, breezy talk to shoot the breeze, mere raillery: more flapper than sage; more purse than flag; a trifle, a siffle, mere piffle.

I've been trying to decode the meaning of the phrase "more flapper than sage; more purse than flag' for about a day now. I bumped into this expression here . Please help me figure this out.

2

"More [x] than [y]" is an idiomatic way of saying that something more closely resembles one thing than another. It doesn't mean that the subject is not [x], just that it should perhaps be considered to be closer to [y].

For example, if someone said they were cooking a stew, but the consistency of it was more liquid than solid, you might say "it's more of a soup than a stew". You're not saying that it isn't a stew, or that it is a soup - just that it has perhaps turned out more like a soup than intended.

The text you quote comes from a piece about the definition of persiflage, which means "light banter". The two statements you are asking about are made to try and help define what that means.

A "flapper" is an old-fashioned word (possibly 1920s) for a party-goer. A "sage" is a wise person. I believe "more flapper than sage" is saying that "persiflage" or "light banter" means talking about trivial matters, not serious matters.

Likewise, a "purse" is something carried for fashion, a "flag" is something carried to represent national politics. Again, I believe "more purse than flag" means that light banter is more likely to be about trivial things like fashion than about serious matters like politics.

I can't be 100% certain these are the intended definitions and comparisons of those 4 words, but I do feel confident that this is the intended meaning in the context of the article.

| improve this answer | |
  • I think flapper in this context is less a Roaring Twenties party girl and more a person who talks too much (i.e. person who flaps his lips a lot). – pboss3010 Mar 2 at 14:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.