See definition in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
Definition of louche in English:
Disreputable or sordid in a rakish or appealing way: the louche world of the theater
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I thought I knew the word “louche” when I read that Sidney Blumenthal had used it for John Boehner in an email unearthed in the Hillary Clinton frolics.
It is a word I would have expected to see describing Noel Coward – his life, his writing – but not John Boehner.
Blumenthal wrote to the Secretary of State:
"Boehner is despised by the younger, more conservative members of the House Republican Conference. They are repelled by his personal behavior. He is louche, alcoholic, lazy, and without any commitment to any principle." He added: "Boehner has already tried to buy the members with campaign contributions and committee assignments, which he has already promised to potentially difficult members. His hold is insecure. He is not [Newt] Gingrich, the natural leader of a 'revolution,' riding the crest into power. He is careworn and threadbare, banal and hollow, holding nobody's enduring loyalty."
I would certainly agree with most of that. Boehner comes off as a stumblebum, a traveling salesman who spent the previous evening in a gin mill. The only definitive thing about him is the hard edge he takes on when talking about President Obama. Boehner and his down-river compatriot Mitch McConnell come off as contemporary border-state versions of the old Deep South - or South Africa. The sneer, the tone. Otherwise, Boehner is inarticulate, inscrutable.
I would expect somebody truly louche to be wearing a top hat or a monocle, a smoking jacket or a cape – not sporting man-tan coloration and slurred speech.
With the clown-car scramble going on at the moment, I would surely settle for louche.
"Among the things that have long fascinated people about Jesus and explain his enduring appeal is his method of dialogue and teaching. "He asked a lot of questions and told a lot of stories in the form of parables. In fact, parables form about a third of Jesus’ recorded teachings. The Gospels were written decades after he died, so his questions and parables clearly left a deep impression on those who bore testimony to him....
"Some of Jesus’ questions were rhetorical; others were meant to challenge or even provoke. In some cases, Jesus used questions to parry attacks by religious authorities who set traps for him. In others, he used questions to enter more fully into the lives of others and to help people look at the state of their hearts. He asked people about their fears and their faith. Jesus used questions to free a woman caught in adultery from condemnation and to inquire whether people considered him to be the Messiah. He probed deeply into questions not many had asked before him, like “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
---(Peter Wehner, long-time White House consultant and writer, in the NYT last week about Jesus Christ’s method of teaching by asking questions.)
"Would that I could mention all the illuminating details in this biography, for example, why Wells praised Black Americans so highly, saying, 'I took a mighty liking to these gentle, human, dark-skinned people,' and 'Whatever America has to show in heroic living today, I doubt if she can show anything finer than the quality of the resolve, the steadfast efforts hundreds of black and colored men are making today to live blamelessly, honorably and patiently, getting by themselves what scraps of refinement, beauty and learning they may, keeping their hold on a civilization they are grudged and denied.''
-- "How H.G. Wells Predicted the 20th Century," Charles Johnson, NYT Book Review, Nov. 19, 2021. ***".
...the monsters arrive."
"They come in a deafening, surging swarm, blasting from lawn to lawn and filling the air with the stench of gasoline and death. I would call them mechanical locusts, descending upon every patch of gold in the neighborhood the way the grasshoppers of old would arrive, in numbers so great they darkened the sky, to lay bare a cornfield in minutes. But that comparison is unfair to locusts.
"Grasshoppers belong here. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry."
---The great Margaret Renkl, from Nashville, one of my favorite NYT bylines, Oct. 26, 2021.
(She describes our Long Island enclave to every decibel, every stink.)