Bogarting, the REAL real story

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Tue Jul 14 17:55:22 UTC 2009

This seems highly persuasive, and (unless an earlier citation turns up) I'm
convinced that I confused my memory of cigarette-sharing lingo in the 1950s
(apparently all white teenagers were racists then) with weed smoking in the

I'm delighted to see the scientific principle confirmed that empirical
evidence and research trumps memory and introspection.

Are you listening, Noam Chomsky?

In a message dated 7/14/09 10:11:25 AM, dave at WILTON.NET writes:

> The original underlying metaphor is uncertain. There are generally three
> competing explanations. You can take your pick between 1 or 2; there is no
> strong reason to prefer one over another. 3 seems less likely.
> 1) It comes from the earlier slang verb "to bogart" meaning to bully or
> intimidate, like the characters Bogey played. One hogs the joint through
> intimidation, with the term gradually losing its violent connotation.
> 2) Hanging on to the cigarette without inhaling, like Bogey with a
> cigarette
> hanging loosely from his lips.
> 3) From the saliva that can accrue on the joint by doing 2. This is less
> likely as the origin, since the first known use, the 1968 Fraternity of
> Man
> song, is clearly about not sharing, not about saliva.
> There is no evidence that I have seen that the term dates to the 1950s, or
> that it was originally used for tobacco cigarettes. The term is
> well-researched and no one has antedated the 1968 Fraternity of Man song.
> I too, first heard "bogart" in the sense of getting saliva on the joint
> (New
> Jersey, early 1980s), but this seems to be a minority usage. The sense of
> not passing the joint around is the overwhelming favorite in usage.
> I've been hearing "bogart," meaning to hog, to not share, in non-marijuana
> contexts since the mid-1990s. as Ron says, it's often with food or
> turn-taking. It's reasonably common to hear it in such contexts now.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
> Of
> ronbutters at AOL.COM
> Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2009 5:44 AM
> Subject: Bogarting, the real story?
> This has been discussed here many times.
> What does it mean to say that HB "would hold on tight to a cigarette"?
> Nobody holds a cigarette loosely.
> Bogart had prominent lips, and in the movies he often held a cigarette
> between his lips, hands-free. When one does this, the cigarette sometimes
> gets wet with saliva.
> In the 1950s people sometimes shared a (tobacco) cigarette. The
> admonition,
> "Don't Bogart it!" merely meant "Don't get it wet!" It had nothing to do
> with unfair sharing or "hogging." Among more socially conscious smokers it
> stood in for a vile racist term.)
> Perhaps within pot culture  the term took on the secondary meaning that
> Silliman puts forth (through hearer misunderstanding). My memory is that
> it
> continued to mean "Don't get spit on the doobie".
> I have never heard the verb "Bogart" used with respect to "hogging" in any
> nonsmoking context. Maybe it does so occur--one would expect to hear it in
> the context of pie or cake or turn-taking in general if S's explanation is
> more than an occassional novice  pot-smoker's naïve mistake.
> ------Original Message------
> From: Ron Silliman
> Sender: ADS-L
> To: ADS-L
> ReplyTo: ADS-L
> Subject: [ADS-L] Bogarting
> Sent: Jul 14, 2009 7:10 AM
> Bogarting is indeed a reference to Humphrey Bogart. It refers to the
> practice of holding on tight to a marijuana cigarette (the way Bogart,
> more
> in films like Maltese Falcon than Casablanca, would hold onto his
> cigarettes). Hence, a failure to share what should be passed around...
> Ron Silliman
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -
> Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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