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Posted by R. Berg on May 21, 2001

In Reply to: Grub posted by ESC on May 21, 2001

: : I heard a word in a cop show the other nite--" the way, thanks for the grub."--referring to a just finished meal in a restaurant.
: : Anybody know the origin of "grub"?

: : There is a Middle English word "grubben" and Old English "grafan" meaning "to dig" which can be linked to the word "grave" as in final resting place.

: : Webster's has grub as a verb as "to dig in the ground especially for something that is difficult to find or extract"--so could "grub" be digging around in the dirt for a potato or carrot?

: : Anybody?
: : thanx
: : bk

: "Whistlin' Dixie" by Robert Hendrickson has "GRUB UP -- To dig out. 'I been grubbing up a clump of willows outen my spring pasture for fifteen years.' (William Faulkner, 'The Hamlet' 1940)

The OED has quotations beginning in 1659 for "grub" as slang for food. Origin of that sense isn't given. As a verb, the word has also meant "to search in an undignified, abject, or grovelling manner; to rummage"--extended from the "digging in the earth" meaning. "Money-grubber" is related. My guess: "grub" as food rests on a joking implication that we eat whatever we can scrounge up.