Header image of books


Heaven knows whether this one is a short-lived linguistic firework or a new star in the language firmament. Those who have followed the British TV series “One Foot in the Grave” will know about Mr Victor Meldrew, the retired security officer who is the epitome of grump, a miserable sod who feels that everything and everyone is out to get him. The series has ended its 10-year run, with Meldrew being killed in the last episode by a hit-and-run driver, who wasn’t actually out to get him, but who got him all the same. Last week a poll by the survey firm MORI identified Meldrews as a new social type — aged between 35 and 54, rebellious and with little time for authority, unhappy with their lives and the world around them, whose attitude can be summed up by “life’s a bitch and then you die”. A possible sign of vitality for the term is the number of compounds that have instantly appeared, such as Meldrewism, Meldrewian, and Meldrewesque.

What’s really interesting about the MORI research is the fact that today’s Meldrews are not pensioners, as was the star of the television sitcom One Foot in the Grave, but are in the 35 to 54 age group. Fed up with their lot, disillusioned with the Government, worried about money, pessimistic about the future and generally sick to death of the shallow, something-for-nothing society we have become, they see years of misery ahead and then death.

Birmingham Post, Aug. 2002

Millions of people aged 35-55 are Meldrews, that is unhappy about society and deeply frustrated that they are powerless to change things. They are Meldrews in that they do not regard Cool Britannia as the Utopia they were told it was.

Church of England Newspaper, Sep. 2002

Search World Wide Words

Support this website!

Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.

Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 14 Sep. 2002

Advice on copyright

The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-mel1.htm
Last modified: 14 September 2002.