July 16, 2014

Case File #014.07.16: GROG

Originally meaning “rum mixed with water,” grog first entered the English lexicon in the mid-eighteenth century as an allusion to Edward Vernon, a noted British admiral who had the nickname Old Grog due to his habit of wearing a cloak made of grogram. (Grogram is a course, stiff fabric made of silk or a blend of silk and mohair or silk and wool.) In 1740, the stern skinflint Vernon ordered that his sailors' rum rations be cut with water, and it didn't take long for the incensed sailors to christen the diluted rum with the nickname of their malefactor. By the end of the eighteenth century, however, grog had come to mean “any liquor that has been diluted with water,” and in the early twentieth century, the word came to be used as an informal reference to any cheap alcoholic drink, especially beer. Around 1830, the noun grog begat the adjective groggy, which, not surprisingly, at first meant “drunk or intoxicated,” though it is now used more broadly to mean “dazed, weak, or unsteady, especially when due to intoxication, illness, or lack of sleep.”

©2014 Michael R. Gates

No comments:

Post a Comment