Monday, January 23, 2012


Man, that four letter word is a drag!

Drag is an interesting word.  I pondered it today for one reason, but in looking into it I started to wonder what its origins really are.

The verb drag dates from the mid-15th century and comes from the proto-Germanic dragan "to draw or pull" and some other earlier related words.

Its use as "to puff" on a cigarette dates from 1914 - and though my sources don't say it, I would assume it comes from some usage in the Great War, perhaps from the use of dragged referring to a violent fight dating to 1895.  Is a drag another name for a cigarette? My references don't say, but I was sure that it was.

As a noun, something boring being a drag appears to date to the early 1800's, but references the boring or laborious work associated with a drag net, which dates to the 13th century.

An actor (and it would usually be an actor) who was in drag dates as late as 1870's, which surprised me quite a bit.  The phrase may come from the dresses dragging on the ground, or perhaps from the Yiddish trogn "to wear" which comes from the German tragen.  The phrase clearly evolved into the more modern drag queen dating to 1941 (and I'm not sure if that one gets associated with World War II).

I have to admit, tho, that none of these are why I chose the word.  Today marks the beginning of the Year of the Dragon as reckoned using the Chinese calendar.  Most other calendars from East Asia, too, for that matter, although there are variants in the animal represented and the start of the calendar year in some cultures.  "Drag" -> "Dragon".  Get it?

No matter. May you have a sufficiently interesting and prosperous year.