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Re: Tommyrot

Posted by R. Berg on May 01, 2001

In Reply to: Re: "To have little truck with..." posted by Patty on April 30, 2001

: : : : I have heard a lot of American rural people say something like "he's not a type I've had much truck with". Any idea exactly what this means, or where the expression comes from? Thanks. - Patty

: : : I dont know the origin but it means "to have no patience with" as in "I have little truck with the Windows OS as it crashes at least 2x a day".

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: : To have no truck with someone means to have no dealings with them. Truck comes from the French "troquer" meaning "to barter". From this origin came the 'truck system' from which 'tommy rot' arose.

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: : That's a load of 'tommy rot' is a way of describing poor quality goods or ideas. The tommy in this instance is said to be slang for bread, provisions etc. I can't find out on what basis, but it is certainly defined as "bread" in the 1811 dictionary. In any case, before the repeal of the Truck law, many employers paid their workers in vouchers which could only be exchanged for goods from company owned shops. The workers had no choice but to accept this type of payment and the goods were frequently of poor quality. Since part of the goods always consisted of bread, then the shops were said to supply tommy rot.

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: Maybe the word "tommy" in "tommy rot" has the same origin of the current word "tummy"? "Bread" and its equivalents in other languages often has the connotqation of food, sustenance. Then bread would equal tummy (or tommy??).

: Thanks for the ideas on "truck". - Patty

"Tummy" is, of course, baby talk for "stomach," and "tommy" appears unrelated.

Oxford English Dict.: "A soldiers' name for the brown bread formerly supplied as rations (also 'brown tommy'); . . . a loaf of bread (dial.); among workmen, food, provisions generally, esp. those carried with them to work each day. . . . App. personified as 'Tommy Brown,' altered to 'brown Tommy' and 'tommy.'" Another definition for "tommy" in the OED is "Gods; esp. provisions supplied to workmen under the truck system; also, short for 'tommy-shop,' and for the truck system." A tommy-shop is a store under the truck system, as described above. "Tommy-rot" is defined as "nonsense, bosh, twaddle."