"drudge up"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Apr 23 16:25:25 UTC 2008

On Slate Magazine, a teaser for their campaign blog Trailhead
currently reads: "Obama's camp says they won't drudge up old Clinton
scandals." The post is here (though the teaser isn't on the post
itself, only the main page):


I half-expected the post to mention the Drudge Report, thus making the
teaser a pun. But it looks like it's an eggcorn instead (with possible
semantic interference from mudraker Matt Drudge). Or perhaps it's just
a regional variant? From American Heritage:

NOUN & VERB: Chesapeake Bay Variant of dredge1.
REGIONAL NOTE: "Out here on the Chesapeake, they call it 'drudging for
arsters,'" says Charles Kuralt in his book On the Road with Charles
Kuralt. The Standard English verb dredge is pronounced with a
centralized vowel by Chesapeake Bay oyster fishermen, yielding drudge.
Drudge in turn has been picked up by city dwellers on the Delmarva
Peninsula; a survey of some young people from Baltimore revealed that
they did not even know that there was a Standard English verb dredge.
Kuralt gives the regional pronunciation a whimsical folk etymology
with the standard meaning of drudge, "to do tedious or unpleasant
work," observing, "Whatever you do for a living, it's not as hard as
'drudging for arsters.'"

Online appearances of "drudge up" extend far beyond the Chesapeake Bay, however:


--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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