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Re: Cabbaged - 1811 use

Posted by Matt on February 25, 2005

In Reply to: Re: Cabbaged - 1811 use posted by James Briggs on February 01, 2005

: : : : : Does anyone know where the word 'cabbaged' came from?

: : : : There's a country (West Virginia) saying about someone cabbaging on to something. "I left my magazine here and somebody cabbaged on to it." This reference says it means "to pilfer, steal. Latch on to." But it doesn't have an origin. "Dictionary of American Regional English," Volume II by Frederic G. Cassidy and Joan Houston Hall (1991, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., and London, England).

: : : It's also recorded in this sense - among many others - in my 1948 American Thesaurus of Slang. No origin, I'm afraid. It was also slang for 'cheat'.

: : How are you using cabbage? The OED has a few entries for cabbage as a verb. One means to grow to a head, another means to pilfer or appropriate surreptiously, as in to plagiarise and one means to crib. I think the origin will depend on how you are using it. If you can let me know, I'll see if I can fill in some of the blanks

: My 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue says: (Incidentally, was is 'whiffled' - no guesses allowed?!)

: CABBAGE. Cloth, stuff, or silk purloined by taylors from their employers, which they deposit in a place called 'hell', or their 'eye': from the first, when taxed, with their knavery, they equivocally swear, that if they have taken any, they wish they may find it in hell; or, alluding to the second, protest, that what they have over and above is not more than they could put in their eye.- When the scrotum is relaxed or whiffled, it is said they will not cabbage.

The verb "cabbage", according to Websters, is probably derived from "cabas," the Middle French word for "cheating or theft.