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Pork Barrelling

Posted by Masakim on December 07, 2003

In Reply to: Pork Barrelling posted by Lotg on December 07, 2003

: 'Pork barrelling' is a term I often hear used by politicians. I'm not entirely clear as to what it means (although I suspect I do), and I'm certainly curious as to its origins.

: Any clues please?

pork barrel / PORK-ba-rul / (noun)
: government projects or appropriations yielding rich patronage benefits
Example sentence:
Although several large appropriations for projects of questionable usefulness went to his home district, the congressman denied that he had supported any budget item that was just a pork barrel.
Did you know?
You might expect that the original pork barrels were barrels for storing pork -- and you're right. In the early 19th century, that's exactly what "pork barrel" meant. But the term was also used figuratively to mean "a supply of money" or "one's livelihood" (a farmer, after all, could readily turn pork into cash). When 20th-century legislators doled out appropriations that benefited their home districts, someone apparently made an association between the profit a farmer got from a barrel of pork and the benefits derived from certain state and federal projects. By 1909, "pork barrel" was being used as a noun naming such government appropriations, and today the term is often used attributively in constructions such as "pork barrel politics" or "pork barrel project."
From "Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day" (Jan 9, 2001)