Derivation of the word oaktag

Joan Hall jdhall at FACSTAFF.WISC.EDU
Fri Dec 20 15:46:44 UTC 2002

David Gold is working on this currently.  Sorry I don't have his address.

At 06:39 PM 12/19/2002 -0500, you wrote:
>In American Speech 59.1 for Spring 1984, Laurence Urdang has a paragraph
>speculating on the etymology of "oaktag" : ". . . "oaktag" is a dark beige,
>which may account for the "oak-" part of its name. In the 1930s and later,
>shipping tags were often made of this material, typically with a hole at one
>end, reinforced with a stiff red circular grommet and a short piece of cord
>for tying to a package. It seems likely to me that the universal application
>of the stock to such use accounts for the "-tag" part of "oaktag." This is,
>of course, a folk eytmology -- but then, "oaktag" appears to be a folk name,
>doesn't it?"
>He notes that in a previous issue (57.3 for fall 1982, p 189), David Gold had
>suggested that "oaktag" is a New York City (and Newark, New Jersey) word. But
>FWIW, it's not in the Dictionary of American Regional English.
>It is notable, also, that "oaktag" is not in the Oxford English Dictionary or
>American Heritage or Merriam-Webster's Collegiate.
>- Allan Metcalf

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