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Re: Brook/have no truck with

Posted by John tate on May 03, 2003

In Reply to: Re: Brook/have no truck with posted by ESC on April 10, 2003

: : : : I've come across the expression "brook(s) no truck" many times, and have never found it in any reference materials, including this site! From the context in which I've seen it used, it seems to mean "won't deal with bullsh-t". Can anyone clarify the definition and explain the origin of this phrase? Thanks.

: : : As far as 'truck' is concerned, the origin is as follows:
: : : To have no truck with someone means to have no dealings with them. Truck comes from the French "troquer" meaning "to barter".
: : : I'll have to check on 'brook' - unless someone beats me to it!

: : I've never seen the specific phrase "to brook no truck with" used. It seems to be an almost tautologous hybrid of two other expressions, namely:-

: : "To have no truck with", meaning to have no dealings with (as ably explained by both ESC and James). This phrase is usually used with an emphatic negative sense, e.g. Bill still smokes hash at weekends, but me? I'll have no truck with drugs these days.

: : "To brook", meaning to tolerate or put up with. Again this phrase is almost always used negatively, e.g. We'll brook no further arguments.

: : So, in conclusion, the phrase "to brook no truck with" means to tolerate absolutely no dealings with, or to reject utterly any association with.

: From Merriam-Webster online at

: Main Entry: 2brook
: Function: transitive verb
: Etymology: Middle English brouken to use, enjoy, from Old English brucan; akin to Old High German bruhhan to use, Latin frui to enjoy
: Date: 15th century
: : to stand for : TOLERATE

: HAVE NO TRUCK WITH - "Avoid association or dealings. An old meaning of 'truck' is trade or barter, and by extension communication or dealings between people. Thus in John Fletcher's 'The Chances' : 'Hark ye Frederick, What truck betwixt my infant -- ?' The meaning survives only in today's negative." From "Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).

: And while we are on the subject of "truck":

: TRUCK FARM - "Many people share the notion that a 'truck farm' is a farm close enough to urban centers that its produce may be transported by truck to the city. However, there is no connection whatever between truck farms and motor transportation. Long before motor trucks were even dreamed of - at least as far back as 1785 - the word 'truck' was used to mean garden vegetables intended for sale in the markets. In fact, we have here an excellent example of the confusion that can develop from homonyms - words which are identical in spelling and pronunciation but very different in meaning. Often, to unravel the complexities, one has to go back to the root of each word. In this case, the 'truck' that is a vehicle for transporting freight comes from the Greek word 'trochos,' meaning 'wheel.' However, 'truck' meaning originally any commodities for sale and, later, garden produce for market comes from an entirely different root, 'troque,' the Old French word for 'barter.'" From "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).

I seem to recall reading about 'Truck Laws' that were introduced in Britain (not sure when)that legislated against the practice of companies having 'Truck shops' that accepted the special coinage minted by the companies who paid employees this way. This ensured the companies got back the wages through 'truck'. They were reputed to charge extortionate prices for goods, and the law eventually made such practice illegal.