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Gt a jag on
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2014/07/28
7:27am
deaconB
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i can find the “state of intoxication” definition for jag, but the origin of the word seems to be given as old english broom,which comes from the greek brome, which means oats.  I don’t see how you get from broom to jag; the words seem highly dissimilar in spelling, pronunciation, and meaning.

Brooms are made from broomcorn, which is pronounced bromecorn.  I’m aware that corns a new world crop, and that corn used to mean grain (technically, corn is a grass,not a grain), so the switch from oats to corn, I  understand.  I assume that broomgrass (pronounced bromegrass) more closely resembles oats; I wouldn’t recognize it if I saw it growing. Back in the 1950s in Ohio, I had neighbors who made themselves brooms in the gloomy winter months to be ready for spring cleaning.  A new broom sweeps clean, they’d tell me, but I couldn’t imagine theirs did.  The store-bought brooms looked a lot more impressive – which is interesting when you realize most of them were made by blind folk.

Anyhow, anyone have an idea how a broom turns into a drinking jag?

2014/07/28
8:22am
Glenn
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Oxford sketches it out, all the while saying “origin unknown.” But I don’t see broom anywhere.
jag

2014/07/28
12:29pm
faresomeness
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One of the defintions from the Oxford link is “a sharp projection”; Webster’s New International from 1930 has, in part, the following: 

jag n, (origin uncertain, but perhaps imitative of a quick stroke)

1) one of the pendants in the edge of a garment

2) a shred, rag, tatter, scrap

3) A projecting hair or bristle, or a hairy, bristly or beardlike outgrowth, as the awn of oats 

     This last sense is getting pretty close to the “broom” deaconB mentions, with the added intrigue that oats are somehow involved. ( An awn is “a stiff bristle, esp. one of those growing from the ear or flower of barley, rye, and many grasses.”)

The second meaning (“A bout of unrestrained or excessive indulgence”, Oxford) has a parallel in the Websters:

jag n.  (dial Eng jag, Scots  jaug, a load, a leather bag or wallet)

1) a small load, as of hay or grain

2) a leather bag or wallet

3) enough liquor to make a man noticeably drunk

     So the two senses are quite different: one a slash, the other a load, and the etymologys certainly suggest different origins. But it’s funny how grain keeps cropping up (sorry) and given the age old connection of liquor to grain, I wonder if there is some further link between the two meanings of jag. Ain’t pure speculation fun?

 

 
2014/07/28
1:58pm
deaconB
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faresomeness said
1) a small load, as of hay or grain

2) a leather bag or wallet

3) enough liquor to make a man noticeably drunk

     So the two senses are quite different: one a slash, the other a load, and the etymologys certainly suggest different origins. But it’s funny how grain keeps cropping up (sorry) and given the age old connection of liquor to grain, I wonder if there is some further link between the two meanings of jag. Ain’t pure speculation fun?

 

Well, there’s also the idiom of “having a skin-full”,and I’ve always wondered of that didn’t mean the drinker’s skin, rather than a wineskin, in as much as it’s a lot easier to get drunk on liquor (because it’s more potent) or beer (because the salt content makes it easier to drink yourself into oblivion.)  Ed Gein reminds us that human skin is untanned leather, and before that, the Nazis did the same.

When I read etymologys, they typically stop with greek or latin, and I always wonder what preceded those words, prior to the Tower of Babel, so to speak.  Johnny Hart in BC and Mel Brooks in Million Year Old Man each had funny bits about coming up with sounds to mean basic stuff (“I call it fire“) but they’ve done a lot of research in my lifetime on how language may have been invented, and I find it interesting – but it, too, is pretty speculative!

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