phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Home | Search the website Search | Discussion Forum Home|

Truck farm/truck farmer

Posted by James Briggs on July 28, 2001

In Reply to: Truck farm/truck farmer posted by ESC on July 27, 2001

: : what in the world in a truck farm?

: Truck = barter.

: TRUCK FARM - "Many people share the notion that a 'truck farm' is a farm close enough to urban centers that its produce may be transported by truck to the city. However, there is no connection whatever between truck farms and motor transportation. Long before motor trucks were even dreamed of - at least as far back as 1785 - the word 'truck' was used to mean garden vegetables intended for sale in the markets. In fact, we have here an excellent example of the confusion that can develop from homonyms - words which are identical in spelling and pronunciation but very different in meaning. Often, to unravel the complexities, one has to go back to the root of each word. In this case, the 'truck' that is a vehicle for transporting freight comes from the Greek word 'trochos,' meaning 'wheel.' However, 'truck' meaning originally any commodities for sale and, later, garden produce for market comes from an entirely different root, 'troque,' the Old French word for 'barter.'" From "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).

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.

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