Talk:toe rag

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copied from a sense of rag:

  1. Toe rag (slang, pejorative) - from Tuareg, a North African tribesman. DCDuring 00:27, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
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The following discussion has been moved from Wiktionary:Requests for verification.

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toe rag

I have created this new entry and inserted on its talk page a single sense line taken from rag which included a suspect etymology. The definition it now has is one of a few that might fit. It seems to be UK slang. Is anyone familiar with this term? DCDuring 01:42, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

  • Yes, it is now used as a general term of abuse. Originally (I believe) it referred to the strips of old cloth wound around the feet instead of boots. SemperBlotto 08:40, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
    • Common in Ireland also, but not as a word for tramp. We'd use it more to define an obnoxious person, someone who has caused us trouble. Another similar word used is tourag which I presume is from Tourag, the nomadic people of north Africa. (Compare baluba) I'll make another definition if I can word it right.--Dmol 09:15, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
      • Thanks. I thought that the etymology from Touareg was suspect, especially since it was listed under "rag". I'll restore that line to toe rag right now. DCDuring 12:44, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I have removed it again. It has nothing to do with Touaregs - as Semper said, it's an old word for a cloth wrapped round the foot. They were associated with tramps and hence by metonymy came to be a word for tramps themselves. Widsith 13:43, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

Contradictory evidence on whether term is pejorative in contemporary usage. DCDuring 15:38, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

As a Brit, I would find this term offensive, unless it was a very close friend using it. Even then, I would assume he had some grievance. Algrif 10:58, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
This is something like my nigger, an offensive term used among friends without becoming "fighting words". That would account for the Clapton quote. It makes me wonder whether there is a label for the phenomenon and whether it is foolish to rely on the use of a term within a friendship group to determine the use of the pejorative tag or other such valence indicator. DCDuring 11:44, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Cited. RfV Passed. bd2412 T 04:46, 20 January 2008 (UTC)


Etymology[edit]

Taken out of archived RfV discussion Conrad.Irwin 12:19, 9 June 2008 (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[edit]

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.

It sounds plausible, consistent with some other bits of slang of Irish origin. I'm going to run it by a couple of people. DCDuring TALK 13:44, 6 August 2008 (UTC)