Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Orleander, Nov 29, 2007.
Where did the term 'scab' come from?
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It's a temporary cover (fill in) for the real thing (skin, or workers).
but doesn't that make teh union workers 'bloody sores'
And doesn'r scab apply to anyone who crosses a picket line, whether or not they work there?
and why is it called a picket line?
One of the earlier meanings for scab is a despicable person (the Oxford says "a low, despicable person"), which was then likely applied to strikebreakers.
From the Online Etomology Dictionary (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=scab):
Settle down - you're trying to carry the analogy TOO far. Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image! 'Scab" was just a convenient word to pick because it does carry a negative connotation with it. A scab on the body is often considered a somewhat disgusting thing.
Sure - it's just a general term but more aimed at those who don't work there. But it just spread to cover anyone going in.
Because they are more or less lined across entrances to the workplace - just like a picket fence that divides one property from another.
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Also, from the Civil War era, a picket is an forward placed soldier, between the enemy and the main body of troops. A picket line was a string of such troops, placed so as to provide advanced warning and prevent surprize attack, especially at night.
Considering the suspicious similarity of "picket" to "pick," one would suspect that the original meaning was more likely a pointed object than a person. According to the Online Etymological Dictionary, this in indeed the case. I suspect that a picket fence is so named because in its classic form the upright posts are pickets, with the pointed ends serving the original purpose of defense against intruders.
Makes sense. Bayonets were in almost universal use by the time of the Civil war. It would be very easy for the term picket to shift from the weapon to the soldier, particularly those assigned guard duty.
so why do they call it a 'strike'?
Well this suggests it's from the idea of striking one's tools (i.e., putting them down) or striking a sail.
To be honest ... I always thought it was because they carried picket signs.
And the word picket apparently comes from piquet, which in turn comes from piquer (prick). Until I looked it up, though, I had guessed picket came from pike, as in pike-ette. But that involves too many languages at once.
This could be it. But the picket itself was already a military weapon, and they were set out at intervals to block invading enemy soldiers and horses. Setting your own soldiers out at intervals to accomplish the same purpose could have evoked the image of pickets.
No, the signs are called "picket signs" because they are carried by people called "pickets." Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!
Remember that after the Norman invasion English assimilated thousands of French words. This, coupled with the grammatical simplifications made by the ruling class as they themselves slowly assimilated and adopted English, makes it the most "un-Germanic" of the Germanic languages. The word "pike" itself (the weapon) is also a borrowed French word, pique, which comes from the same verb piquer. To make matters more intriguing, the only Latin word that makes a halfway credible source is picus, "woodpecker." It's possible that piquer comes ultimately from the original Germanic language of the Franks or the original Celtic language of the Gauls.
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