Posted by Heldmyw on August 31, 2001
In Reply to: Re: Piggyback? posted by esc on August 31, 2001
: : We all know what it means, but where did it come from? I've never heard of swine being used as beasts of burden (lousy ground clearance, poor traction). Possible corruption of "pick-a-back"? Heard that too, but what does THAT mean?
: PICKABACK -- "If we count only three generations to a century, our ancestors were carrying their children or others 'pick-a-back' twelve generations ago and calling the manner by that name, or one very like it. That is, in the original dialect the term may have been 'pick pack', which may have referred to a pack picked (pitched) on one's shoulders. In the past hundred and fifty years the term has often been corrupted to 'piggy-back' or the like, but great honored men have, on occasion, been carried 'pickaback'"; none has yet been carried 'piggy-back.'" From "Horsefeathers & Other Curious Words" by Charles Earle Funk and Charles Earle Funk Jr. (Harper & Row, New York, 1986, first published in 1958).
From "Dr. Techie"---posted elsewhere.
"The origin has nothing to do with pigs, which seem to have gotten in by folk etymology. According to the OED, the earliest recorded forms (16th century) are "pickback" or "a pickback" (the origin of these is uncertain, but may be related to French _a pic_, "vertically"). This later was modified to "pick-a-back" (which still seems to be in use in Britain, at least) and thence to "piggy-back". Kind of strange, since pigs are not used for riding or carrying burdens."
Any comments on the expression "a pic" (FR. "vertically"?)