copied from a sense of rag:
- Toe rag (slang, pejorative) - from Tuareg, a North African tribesman. DCDuring 00:27, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
I have to disagree with [the above]. I was told with some conviction in my youth (longer ago than I care to reveal) that the term "Toe rag" was indeed derived from the Tourareg (or Tuareg) nomadic tribe. Its a bastardisation of the word just as the town of Ypres was nicknamed as Wipers during the first world war by British soldiers. It's highly likely that the Tuareg suffered the same treatment. Of course people have used cloth coverings for their feet but surely they would be called foot rags rather than toe rags! It would make more sense to cover the base of the foot and leave the toes free. I have more suspicion about the "rags for toes" definition than I do the "Tuareg" definition.--Hauskalainen 12:17, 9 June 2008 (UTC)
- Hang on! I queried this because the definition I expected to see in the entry ("Tuareg") was not there. I assumed that it had gone for reference and had been rejected, but actually the entry here implies that the entry SURVIVED the RfV process. So why is it not in the main entry? Have I misunderstood something?
- The word survived, but the only senses found are the ones given. Note that the citations really don't support two of the senses. They could be subject to challenge. In looking for citations for this word we could not find that the word actually meant Tuareg in documented, verifiable, durably archived sources. It would be helpful to know when this term in that sense was in use and by whom so that we had some clues to aid in the search for verification. DCDuring TALK 12:09, 12 June 2008 (UTC)
Toe rag first appears in print in 1864. See Oxford English Dictionary "1864 J. F. Mortlock Experiences of Convict ii. ix. 80 Stockings being unknown, some luxurious men wrapped round their feet a piece of old shirting, called, in language more expressive than elegant, a ‘toe-rag’." In 1875 it appeared in print describing a vagrant "1875 T. Frost Circus Life xvi. 278 Toe rags is another expression of contempt..used..chiefly by the lower grades of circus men, and the acrobats who stroll about the country, performing at fairs." It has no connection with the Taureg at all. There are claims it is used in Cockney rhyming slang for a "slag" but that is not the origin, only a usage.
toe rag - alternative etymology
I have heard that 'toe rag' came from the same root as 'tory' - namely from the Irish 'toruighe' [not sure of the spelling] meaning a robber or bandit. I remembered this when I head an elderly lady from Edinburgh describing a local kid (actually Tom Farmer the Kwik Fit entrepreneur) as a bit of 'toe rag' on the radio (6th August http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/thehouseigrewupin/pip/lr293/). In her Leith accent the word sounded both incredibly Gaelic, and just like 'tory.' Is there any truth in this connection? Intuitively it seems more probable than the Tuareg origin.