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Strapped for cash. Run a tab

Posted by James Briggs on September 22, 2003

I had the following sent to me the other day. I'm dubious about both but, in none of my reference books is there an explanation - other than suggesting an analogy between hunger and belt tightening with being short of cash. I can find no mention in our archives. What to others think of the suggestion/s? Do you know of a better origin/s?

"I have read that "strapped for cash" had to do with London publicans extending credit to porters who wanted to drink, but had no cash until payday. So the publican would "run a tab", or strap of leather, with the porter's name off of the wall or back bar and notch it for each drink served. Therefore the terms "strapped for cash" and "running a tab"."