Of griggles and grigs
Posted: 29 August 2008 11:31 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Griggles first. Wonderful little word. I’ve just come across it by a circuitous route which I’ll explain below. Here’s OED:

griggles, n., pl.

Small apples left on the tree by the gatherer. Hence griggling vbl. n., collecting ‘griggles’.

1826 in Hone Every-day Bk. II. 1270 The small apples are called griggles… Climbing boys..commence griggling. Ibid. 1271 Their griggling perambulations. 1847 HALLIWELL, Griggles, small apples. In some cyder counties, boys who collect these after the principal ones are gathered, call it griggling. 1893 in Wilts. Gloss.

Strolling through D’Israeli’s Curiosities of Literature I happened upon Names of Our Streets. Of Greek Street in Soho D’Israeli remarks:

Greek-street, says Pennant, “I am sorry to degrade into Grig-street;” whether it alludes to the little vivacious eel, or to the merry character of its tenants, he does not resolve.

This intrigued me and upon checking grig in OED I found firstly the ‘vivacious eel’ and secondly, to my astonishment, that the phrase ‘merry Greek’, ie boon companion, roisterer, may well be a corruption of ‘merry grig’.

grig, n, 1

[Of obscure origin. The identity of the word in the various senses is very doubtful, but Johnson’s conjecture that it originally meant ‘anything below the natural size’ would plausibly account for all the uses. (Cf. GRIGGLES.)
Cf. also Sw. dial. krik (literary Sw. kräk) little animal, small child; Sc. crick, crike, ? a louse (Jam.); also CRICK n.4]

1. A diminutive person, a dwarf. [Perh. transf. from sense 3 (or 4, if the latter be genuine).] Obs. rare.

2. A short-legged hen. Also grig-hen. Obs. exc. dial.

3. A species of eel; a small or young eel (see quots.). Also more fully grig-eel.

1611 COTGR., Anguillette, a Grig, or little Eele. 1629 GAULE Holy Madn. 130 Silly Grigge! Come out of thy Pond and Mud. 1653 WALTON Angler x. 192 The silver-Eele, and green or greenish Eel (with which the River of Thames abounds, and are called Gregs).

4. A grasshopper or cricket. dial.
The genuineness of this sense is doubtful, as the dialect glossaries containing it usually quote as their sole example the phrase ‘merry as a grig’ (see 5).

5. a merry (or mad) grig (rarely without adj.): an extravagantly lively person, one who is full of frolic and jest. Also in phrase as merry (or lively) as a grig.
[Commonly associated with sense 4; but it is possible that sense 4 is itself merely an erroneous inference from the equivalence of the above phrases with ‘a merry crick’, ‘merry as a cricket’; if so, the allusion in ‘a merry grig’ may originally have been to sense 3 or even to sense 2. The relation of merry grig to the earlier recorded synonym merry Greek is obscure; no doubt one of them must have been a perversion of the other, but the difference of recorded date is too slight to afford ground for saying that merry Greek is the original. The probability seems indeed rather on the other side, as it is not easy to explain why Greek should be used in this sense, for which there is no precedent in Fr. Cf. also GIG.]

1566 DRANT Horace’s Sat. I. iii. Bvb, A merry grigge, a iocande frende. 1589 Hay any Work 4 A company of merrie grigs you must think them to be. 1638 BROME Antipodes I. v. Wks. 1873 III. 245 Whilst I And my mad Grigs, my men can run at base.

6. slang. A farthing; pl. money, cash, ‘dibs’.

BTW I see there’s a transitive verb, grig, to irritate, annoy, which OED marks ‘Now Anglo-Irish and U.S.’. Is this still current in the States?

[ Edited: 29 August 2008 11:39 PM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 30 August 2008 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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No.

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Posted: 30 August 2008 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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We do have dibs, however, in a slightly different sense.  “I got dibs on that...” Meaning, I presume, that I have placed money on that.  Plus extended metaphorical uses.

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Posted: 30 August 2008 12:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Interesting. I have dibs on that in the UK would mean, ‘that one’s mine’, ‘I bag that one’. Or should I say, ‘I bags that one’. For some obscure reason, the third person singular form of the verb is often used (perhaps reflecting its schoolboy origin?)

[ Edited: 30 August 2008 12:44 PM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 30 August 2008 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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At junior school we’d say ‘baggsie me’ when we wanted to be the person to do something or just ‘baggsie’ when we wanted something (the word usually included actions like jumping up and down or pointing). Up until this very moment it had never occurred to me that the slang was related to ‘bag’.

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Posted: 30 August 2008 04:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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"I have dibs on that” means the same thing in the US as you describe for the UK, aldi.  I’ve never heard it in the sense “I have placed money on that.” Either they use it differently in Oeco’s neighborhood, or, as I suspect, he was speculating about an origin rather than describing a current meaning.

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Posted: 30 August 2008 04:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Is it not “Bags I...” rather than “I bags...”?

Is this some old structure?  “Methinks” and “must needs be” strike me as somehow similar.

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Posted: 30 August 2008 06:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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as I suspect, he was speculating about an origin rather than describing a current meaning.

Right you are Doc! Thanks.

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Posted: 30 August 2008 08:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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reverb - 30 August 2008 04:54 PM

Is it not “Bags I...” rather than “I bags...”?

Is this some old structure?  “Methinks” and “must needs be” strike me as somehow similar.

Yes indeed, the inverted form was more common. I use the past tense advisedly. I suspect both I bags and bags I have gone the way of the dodo as far as modern kids are concerned.

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Posted: 31 August 2008 12:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I remember “I bags” and “bags I”, although I think the latter formation was only used for the formal declaration of annexation. Although it certainly sounds like it’s the third person form that’s being used there, I’m fairly sure that our usage when I was at primary school (1961-67) was to treat it as if it was a verb “to bags”.

I’m remembering back a looooong way, but the following sounds authentic to my ear:

Boy A (outraged): “Oi! I bagsed that!”

Boy B (smug, knowing that possession is what counts): “Well, if you’re going to bags it, do it louder so we know you’ve done it.”

Boy C (attempting to arbitrate): “He’s right you know; bagsing only counts if everyone hears you.”

Boy A (fighting rearguard): “You lot were all talking when I bagsed it. It’s not fair if he bagses it just cos he wasn’t listening when I bagsed it first!”

...and so on.

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