This short piece in Larry Elliott’s Economics Blog in last week’s Guardian reminded me of how much I like the word “trouser” as a verb. For once I read the piece in the paper itself before checking it online. He writes about the recent travails at BHS, previously owned by Philip Green and sold on to someone (in Elliott’s words) “with a questionable business background”:
“Green and other investors trousered £580m in dividends, rent and interest during his ownership, sold it to a man with a questionable business background, and saw it collapse little more than a year later with a £571m hole in its pension fund.”
The investors didn’t just pocket £580m in dividends, rent and interest: they trousered it. The verb implies so much more than “paid themselves”, or “pocketed”. It implies that the payments involved were huge, and they were.
The word came to mind in the months following Sven-Goran Eriksson’s dismissal as manager of the England football team. He was no longer working for the FA but was still being paid something like 4 million pounds a year (or, more accurately, “trousering” 4m quid a year).
This headline from the Mirror back in April also used the word, referring to David Cameron’s involvement with offshore trusts set up by his late father: “David Cameron admits trousering thousands from his Dad’s offshore firm”.
Getting back to football it looks like Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be signing for Manchester United this week. He’s a free agent so there’ll be no transfer fee and his proposed wages are rumoured to be around 13 million pounds per year. That’s 260,000 English Pounds every week. What will he be doing with all that money? Trousering it.