Take a Word.... Bag: Etymology, Sayings, Examples and a Poem
Etymology of 'bag'
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=bag say that from around the year 1200, bagge, from Old Norse baggi or a similar Scandinavian source, meaning bag, bundle, pack, bale, hay bale, or mental burden.
The last meaning above can be used in phrases like, ‘She [or he] came with a lot of baggage’, referring to either that she had many problems or worries caused by her past, or that he has children to bring to a relationship - or maybe both!
Words, words, words
I’ve had encouragement from a few hubbers (my favourites, naturally) to continue this series. As I love to play with words, to explore meanings and nuances, there are indeed a few more ‘Take a Word’s in the pipeline.
It's always a challenge to use alternative phraseology which can make our writing more colourful, more arresting, more 'alive'.
As before, see what you can come up with before you read on. How many idioms or sayings do you know which include this word?
Several phrases using ‘bag’ refer to women! Can you have a bag man? Never heard of one but not to be sexist we have to allow them to exist.
Many of these sayings are obviously to do with the shape and purpose of a bag. Some are aligned to claiming or grabbing and subsequently putting into a bag.
Let’s explore these sayings, by way of a little poetry.
The Bag Lady
The old bag lady slumped on the seat,
shoes down at heel, her life round her feet,
observed the old man across the way,
a sad bag of bones who was there every day.
Tattered and weathered, years-old baggy clothes,
she missed not a thing that happened to those
who frequented the park where a mixed bag of folks
got on with their lives, the girls and the blokes.
She knew many secrets of those who passed by.
She knew why the sad man had bags ‘neath his eyes.
This man was a rich one, turned tramp on the streets
because he had lost a great love through bad deeds.
A Seat in the Park
He’d had bags of charm, bags of style, blue eyes bright,
but a liking for whiskey had brought on his plight.
His love, after trying to get through the days,
putting up with his moods, his philandering ways,
had finally enough of his sad bag of tricks,
his endless excuses, his promise to fix
the way of life he’d come to pursue,
she left, bag and baggage, to start life anew.
“Who’s that old bag?” she heard someone say,
“Oh she’s just the bag lady, here every day.”
Was that all she was, just a down-trodden hag?
Well, maybe ‘twas time to let the cat out the bag.
She winced as she pushed herself up from the bench,
Time hadn’t softened the pain of the wrench
of when she’d departed. Had he changed his bag,
forsaken the drink, become less of a drag?
Had life been a pain, is that why he sat there,
watching, like her, as time passed, as he stared?
He saw her approach, knew her not, did not care.
Her words, “Bags-I choose where we eat… let’s see, there!”
Surprise in his eyes, a small spark of doubt,
who was this, was she actually asking him out?
Then, “You don’t know me, do you, my old love?”
He froze, searched her eyes, as she gazed from above.
The love of his life had pulled out of the bag
a chance to make up for the grief, for that tag
as a no-good playboy who drank life away,
a chance to bag up all his past on that day.
They walked round the streets, arm in arm, talking fast,
aware they had much to catch up on, the past.
Hungry, they managed some doggy-bag scraps
from kind restaurant owners who knew both these ‘chaps’.
The two reunited had bags to discuss,
so sat in the park, no bad words, no fuss.
Each day from then on you could see them together,
a bag of life each, for ever and ever.
Other phrases and explanations
bag it up - put the goods in a bag
bag someone - arrest somebody
bagged it - stole it
what’s your bag? - area of expertise, interest, category
wind-bag, gas bag - someone who is full of hot air i.e. nothing to say but talks a lot
couldn’t punch his way out of a paper bag - has no strength or no intelligence to find a way out of an awkward situation
mixed bag - some good, some not so good
pull it out of the bag - do something unexpected to save the day
Pretty or Practical?
Bags - hand, clutch, shoulder
Women are known to like handbags, probably a close second to shoes! That’s not to say that men don’t have handbags, often, it seems, for the purpose of carrying their money as an alternative to a wallet.
A handbag is self-explanatory but there are all sorts of other bags.
You fellas will have to excuse me if I go off on a ‘girl’ thing here. We can never have enough bags, the more shapes and colours and fabrics and designs and….., the better.
Out for the evening, we have our model clutching a … yep, you got it, a clutch bag; small, dainty, sparkling and of a cloth to suggest taste or wealth or style, or maybe all three.
Off for a shopping spree? Well, don’t forget the shoulder bag, leaving your hands free to go through the clothes rails, to carry all the garments you can buy in a day and to wear across you in case of crowds where those who wish to alleviate you of your purchases may lurk. Should you be looking for a bargain, you might like to know that a Tom Ford shoulder bag could be yours for a mere £2840.00 - I’ll have two!
How Deep can you Go?
More bags - tote, beach, carpet, carrier
If you carry everything but the kitchen sink with you, then opt for a tote bag. Yours truly has one, about the largest bag you can have without it being called a case. Deep down inside you can rummage around like Mary Poppins and find all sorts of things you didn’t know you had. Briefly it’s a large shopping bag, usually open at the top, with strong rounded handles (can just about be carried over the shoulder).
The word ‘tote’ goes back to the 17th century and means ‘to carry’. You can buy a chic black ‘Mulberry’ tote bag for £495. Cheap as chips!
Then there's the old-fashioned carpet bag, a large travelling bag made of... you guessed it... carpet. Mary Poppins had a fantastic one which apparently had the dimensions of the Tardis.
Getting away from shopping for just a few minutes, what do you need to take your towel, sun cream, hat, sun glasses, beach mat, picnic and maybe the baby? Yes of course, a beach bag, closely resembling a tote bag but probably more garish and made of more robust materials.
Back to shopping - well I did say it was just a few minutes - we have the good old basic carrier bag, made of plastic, usually from a supermarket with their logo printed on it.
The larger black plastic model can be used for holding rubbish in your bin (trash can for those over the pond), but make sure you have a strong one that the seagulls or foxes can’t pull apart should they manage to flip their lids (of the bins, not the animals).
I'll leave you with....
If you want to bag it up, put it in your bag of tricks and go off, bag and baggage, to pastures new, don’t forget to bag a seat on the train or you might find someone else has it in the bag already.
© 2015 Ann Carr