Saturday, October 27, 2012

Nag, Nag, Nag

The word nag came up on last Tuesday’s program. The question was, how can it convey two such very different meanings?

One meaning is a horse, especially an old or feeble one. The Oxford English Dictionary says that the origin is uncertain, but then it goes on to cite an early modern Dutch word—negge, a small horse.

The other nag means to scold, find fault, or persistently complain. The OED points to a nexus of Scandinavian words as the source. They meant to rub, grumble, complain, or irritate.

SIDEBAR:  Joan Jett’s Nag

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