"craps game"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Mar 30 15:19:38 UTC 2009

At 3/30/2009 10:45 AM, Paul wrote:
>Does anyone know why when you're in a crap game you are shooting craps?
>Was it once a possessive?  Or is because of the three ways you can crap
>out on your first roll?

A previous message of mine suggests that perhaps it was a misplaced
possessive that created the singular form.

The OED tells me one can also "shoot crap":
1891 Amer. N. & Q. VIII. 41 There is a sort of gambling game, called
crap, or 'shooting crap', much played by newsboys, bootblacks and negroes.
1970 R. D. ABRAHAMS Positively Black iii. 79, I was standing on the
corner, wasn't even shooting crap, When a policeman came by, picked
me up on a lame rap.

But the etymology diffidently suggested by the OED for "craps" is
also a plural:

[Of obscure origin, but cf. crabs, CRAB n.1 9.]

crab n.1
9. pl. slang. The lowest throw at hazard, two aces.

This I assume means that one ace is one crab/crap (and suggests that
some -- I name myself -- equated one crap to one die).



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

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