Several people have emailed asking how Humphrey Bogart’s name became associated with a term meaning selfishness. Ah, how soon we forget the intricacies of ‘60s drug culture. The selfish connotation comes from hogging a marijuana cigarette. Someone who kept the joint in their mouth, hanging from their lip like Bogey, would be bogarting the joint. Instead of bogarting, one should pass it on to another. The term can be used for hoarding items other than pot.
The term is first attested to in the song Don’t Bogart Me, by Elliot Ingber and Larry Wagner, which appears on Fraternity Of Man’s eponymous album, released 24 June 1968 by ABC Records:
Don’t bogart that joint, my friend Pass it over to me.
The song was featured the next year in the movie Easy Rider and is on that movie’s soundtrack. (The song was later covered by the band Little Feat under the title Don’t Bogart That Joint.)
In some circles, there is a slightly different definition of bogarting. It is to get saliva all over the joint before passing it on—again from the imagery of the cigarette hanging from Bogey’s lip. But this sense seems to be used by a minority.
There is an older, unrelated meaning of the term—to be aggressive or bullying. It comes from the fact that Bogart played toughs in the movies.
(Source: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition)
Copyright 1997-2013, by David Wilton