Posted by James Briggs on October 29, 2001
In Reply to: Re: "Lose the rag" posted by ESC on October 29, 2001
: : anyone got any information on the background to the phrase
"lose the rag",any info would go toward solving a familly dispute.
: : Regards
: : Darrell Mccloskey
: We have previously discussed a similar British phrase: Losing your rag -- "The Dictionary of Contemporary Slang" by Tony Thorne" says this expression is of "obscure origin" but rag "...has meant variously one's tongue, a flag, to tease, to bluster or rage, but none of these senses can be definitively linked to the modern phrase." (Pantheon Books, New York, 1990). Then there's an expression, "don't that take the rag off the bush." I couldn't find my notes on that one but, if memory serves, it means, "isn't that amazing, doesn't that beat all, doesn't that take the cake."
Back in 1811 in England 'rag' was slang for banknotes, money in
'To rag' also meant to abuse - to tear to rags the character of the person abused.
Perhaps these are links?