Saturday, September 21, 2013


Bob from Glen Arbor asked about the word bootleg. Originally, from the 17th century onwards, it was quite literal: the tall leg or upper part of a leather boot. It was a handy place to conceal a knife, a derringer, or a flask of whiskey. As time went on, it came to mean surreptitious, undocumented, illegal, and contraband.

During Prohibition, the term was narrowed to mean illicit alcoholic beverages. As time went on and the 18th Amendment was repealed by the 21st Amendment, bootleg was used to describe any illicit transaction. There was bootleg music, bootleg DVDs, bootleg cigarettes, bootleg software, and any other contraband product on the black market.

In football, bootleg refers to a play in which the ball carrier pretends to hand the ball off to another player, but actually keeps and conceals it and continues on with the play.

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