Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Apr 1 01:06:55 UTC 2000

>Jerome Foster wrote:
>> Brown-bagging , I've always understood, was bringing your own lunch from
>> home to work or to a meeting or other event.
>That usage is common here (Mississippi) now, but back in The Olden Days
>brown-bagging meant taking liquor to restaurants and ordering set-ups.
>I'm pretty sure it was illegal, but it was overlooked.  After all,
>Mississippi is, I think, the only state in the country that levied a
>"black-market tax" on bootleggers.
>   --Natalie Maynor (maynor at

As a born and bred Yank, I share the judgments reported by Natalie.
"Brown-bagging" was and I believe still is bringing one's own beer, wine,
or whatever to a restaurant that doesn't have a liquor license (not an
uncommon occurrence in the Northeast or California, even though the
counties I've lived in have all been wet).  Brown-bagging is also bringing
one's lunch to work, whence the "brown-bag (lunch) talk/workshop".  Context
tends to disambiguate, fortunately--at least at the brown bag lunches I've


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