Word of the Day: shag

Word of the Day
July 19, 2016
shag (noun, verb)
/ʃæg/  sound icon
 
A shag carpet
Shag is any rough and tangled wool or hair or a rug or carpet with long loose threads. It is also coarse shredded tobacco or, in US English, a layered hairstyle. As a verb, shag has a sexual meaning in the UK (more information below!). The shag is also a dance that was popular in the 1930s and 40s, especially in the US, and, as a verb, to shag means to perform this type of dance.

 

Example sentences
 
The man had a thick shag of blond hair.
A shag rug covered a large part of the floor.
George filled his pipe with shag.
Maria asked her hairdresser for a shag.
All the young people were dancing a shag.
Paul was determined to learn to shag.

 

Multi-word forms
 
shag pile: used to describe the density of shag rugs or carpets
 
Additional information
 
A shag is also a type of bird and, in Australia, the informal expression like a shag on a rock means that someone or something is alone and abandoned.
 
Did you know?
 
In UK English, informally, a shag is an instance of sexual intercourse and, as a verb, shag means 'to have sexual intercourse.' Because of this, it is generally advisable to be careful when using this word in the presence of British English speakers. You may for instance, wish to refer to a shag carpet or shag pile carpet, rather than simply use the word shag on its own.
 
Other forms
 
shaggy (adjective)
 
Origin
 
The verb shag dates back to the late 14th century, and meant 'to shake or waggle,' though it's no longer used in that sense. It's likely that the UK English slang meaning 'to have intercourse' came from this sense, and it was used as early as the late 18th century. The dance sense also originated from this verb. The noun has a completely different origin. It first appeared in the late 16th century, and meant 'cloth with a velvet nap on one side.' It probably came from the Old English word sceacga, meaning 'rough matted hair or wool,' though there's no Middle English equivalent to help us trace it.
 
 
 
 
 
Shag in other languages
 
 
 
 
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