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This is from Proust in a dialogue given by Forcheville:

Il ferait un excellent prédicateur. On peut dire qu’avec M. Bréchot, vous avez là deux numéros qui se valent, je ne sais même pas si comme platine, celui-ci ne damerait pas encore le pion au professeur.

I get 'damer le pion à qqn', which means 'get the better of someone'. But I don't get 'comme platine'. Is this just an instance of the speaker being creative with language? My best guess is that he is saying that he himself is as stupid as platinum and this is why he doesn't understand why someone will not get the better of someone else. However, platinum having a status higher than silver and even gold, it is not often associated with being stupid.

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It's a forgotten meaning:

TLFi Platine

II.Populaire, vieilli. Verve, faconde, bagout. Une platine d'avocat et l'aisance d'un prédicateur, ce bon paroissien (Cladel, Ompdrailles, 1879, p. 170). Ils enviaient, pour leur député qui ne soufflait jamais un mot, la «sacrée platine» qu'avait M. le doyen (Mirbeau, Le Journal d'une femme de chambre, 1900 , p. 217). On peut dire qu'avec M. Bréhot, vous avez là deux numéros qui se valent, je ne sais même pas si comme platine, celui-ci ne damerait pas encore le pion au professeur (Proust, Un amour de Swann, 1913, p. 257).

So the phrase might translate to:

I don't even know if, as far as verve is concerned, this one wouldn't still beat the professor.

C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin translated it this way:

What with him and M. Brechot you've got a couple of real characters, though as regards the gift of the gab, I'm not so sure that this one doesn't knock a few spots off the Professor.

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    damn or should I say Dame, (get it?), anyway, I looked there but sometimes with all their words it can be hard to find things. once again, thanks.
    – bobsmith76
    Feb 6, 2023 at 10:27
  • Yes, it's a very obscure meaning definitely missing for that reason from the French-to-English dictionaries.
    – jlliagre
    Feb 6, 2023 at 10:54

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