truck / truck farm
A truck farm has nothing to do with motorized cargo vehicles. The truck in truck farm comes from the noun meaning trade or barter, a word borrowed from the Anglo-Norman truke in the 14th century. From Richard Hakluyt’s 1553 The Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoueries of the English Nation (published in 1598):
No commutation or trucke to be made by any of the petie marchants, without the assent abouesaid.
In late-18th century America, truck came to mean garden produce or culinary vegetables—those most likely to be traded or brought to market. From the Maryland Journal of 14 December 1784:
A large Room...for his Customers to lodge in, and deposit their Market-truck.
The term truck farm itself appears in Notes & Queries from 1866:
A truck garden, a truck farm, is a market-garden or farm.
The word for the motorized vehicle, on the other hand, is either borrowed from the Latin, and ultimately Greek, trochus, meaning wheel, or from the Anglo-Norman trokle, also meaning wheel or roller. From John Florio’s 1611 Queen Anna’s New World of Words:
Rigolo, a little wheele vsed vnder sleds. Gunners call it a trucke.
By the late-18th century this sense of truck was being used to mean a cart for hauling goods. From the Hull Dock Act of 1774:
Any truck or cart, sledge waggon, dray.
And in the opening decades of the 20th century the word was applied to motorized vehicles for hauling goods.
(Source: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition)
Copyright 1997-2017, by David Wilton