X bar

Yesterday’s Bizarro:

The compound hippo bar, with head bar ‘establishment where alcohol is served’ — so it’s subsective: a hippo bar is a kind of bar. It’s also an instance of a snowclonelet composite X bar, a snowclonelet I hadn’t previously looked at — in this case a subtype of X bar in which X characterizes (directly or indirectly) the patrons of the bar. The model for hippo bar in the cartoon is gay bar ‘bar catering to gay people (esp. men)’, and that adds to the humor in the cartoon: to start with, a hippo in a bar; then the idea of a bar catering to hippos; and then, the zinger, the guy who didn’t know the place was a hippo bar, the way some guys turn up in a gay bar maintaining that they had no idea the place was a gay bar.

Some background, from a section of NOAD2’s bar entry:

a counter across which alcoholic drinks or refreshments are served. [a]

● a room in a restaurant or hotel in which alcohol is served. [b]

● an establishment where alcohol and sometimes other refreshments are served. [c]

● [usu. with modifier] a small store or booth serving refreshments or providing a service: a dairy bar. [d]

The main line, a, connects this family of uses to those with the ‘long rod or piece of wood’ sense: the counter is (at least historically) a long piece of wood. The remaining senses are extensions or specializations of this main sense. It’s sense c that appears in the snowclonelet composite.

Four subtypes of c:

X characterizes patrons, ‘bar for Xs’: gay bar, queer bar, leather bar (leather people, esp. leathermen), hustler bar, twink bar, lesbian bar (all involving gay people); biker bar, singles bar (others); Turkish bar, Japanese bar, etc. (bars for Turks, Japanese, etc.)

X characterizes accompanying activities, ‘bar at which X goes on’: dance bar (dancing), karaoke bar (karaoke), pool bar (playing pool); jazz bar, country / C&W bar, blues bar (types of music played at the bar); backroom bar (with a backroom for sexual activity), blowjob bar (where you can get/give a blowjob), topless bar (with topless dancers), stripper / strip bar (with strippers)

X characterizes the kind of alcohol served: wine bar, beer bar, cocktail bar

X denotes the location: beach bar, rooftop bar

The characterization of type d is less clear and might not belong with the subtypes above: it’s especially characterized by food served, though the establishment is not necessarily small and can in fact be a restaurant (bar & grill): sushi bar, tapas bar, snack bar, hookah bar (not a bar and not providing food)

And then there’s dive bar ‘bar that is a dive’, which is, strictly speaking, redundant, given the NOAD2 entry for dive:

informal  a disreputable nightclub or bar: he got into a fight in some dive.

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