Thursday, July 31, 2008


Dave Gill wrote: “While driving out to Benzonia this morning I passed the Cherry Growers facility and noticed the stacks of containers used for transporting cherries. I know that they are called 'lugs'. My question is about the origin of the word lug and its usage as a noun, verb or prefix. For example…The orchard produced 100 lugs of cherries. Or, We had to lug the containers up the hill. Or, Our luggage was lost by the airline. Is there a connection between these three usages? Now I must go tighten the lug nuts on my car!”

Interesting question. As it turns out, the lug used to haul cherries and the luggage that we take on trips are connected. They came from an Old Swedish word that meant to move something slowly and heavily, to drag it along. Long before that, the original lug meant to pull a person’s hair. So Hamlet's "I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room" also fits with this group.

The lug that shows up in lug nut or lug wrench doesn’t seem to be directly connected. Instead, it comes from a word that meant a projecting part. Originally, it came from a Scandinavian word that meant the ear flap of a cap, or the ear itself.

In the 1930s, lug also meant a lout, a sponger, a bozo, and a lowlife.

Finally, I can’t resist passing along a lug nut story. It appeared in the Kitsap (Washington) Sun on November 10, 2007.

Kitsap Man Hurts Himself Trying to Loosen Lug Nut -- With a Shotgun

A 66-year-old man shot himself in both his legs Saturday afternoon while trying to loosen a stubborn lug nut with a 12-gauge shotgun.

Kitsap County sheriff's deputies were called to the residence on the xxxxx block of SE Olympiad Drive at 2:57 p.m. after the shooting was reported to 911 emergency dispatchers, said Deputy Scott Wilson, a sheriff's office spokesman.

"Nobody else was there and he wasn't intoxicated," Wilson said.

South Kitsap Fire and Rescue medics treated the man at the scene. He was taken to Tacoma General Hospital. Wilson said his injuries were "severe but not life-threatening."
Deputies at the scene reported the man blasted "double-ought" buckshot at the wheel from "arm's length," Wilson said.

The deputies described the man's legs as "peppered" from his feet to his mid-abdomen with pellets, pieces of the wheel and other debris. Some injuries went as far up as his chin.
The man had been repairing the Lincoln Continental for two weeks, and had removed all the lug nuts on the right rear wheel except for one.

"He's bound and determined to get that lug nut off," Wilson said, who did not know how long the man had been trying to free the lug nut.

The deputies did not take a statement from the man beyond what they were able to gather while he was being treated by medics.

"I don't think he was in any condition to say anything," Wilson said. "The pain was so severe, and the shock."

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