up sticks/up stakes: eggcorn origin?

Lynne Murphy m.l.murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK
Fri May 18 04:10:49 UTC 2007

Am working on a blog entry on BrE 'up sticks' (to pick up one's things and
move), which seems related to AmE 'to pull up stakes'.  The OED supports a
relation between the 'move oneself & one's belongings' meaning of 'up
sticks' and the 'put up the mast of one's boat' meaning.  'Stakes' could be
seen as referring to tent stakes.

Is there any evidence that AmE 'pull up stakes' is an eggcorn based on 'up
sticks' (or vice versa)?  Or are they just coincidentally very similar in
sound and meaning?

Both phrases are claimed in different places to have originated in the
early 1800s, though there is a lone early example (1703) for 'up stakes' in
the OED.

Will be grateful for any insight...

Dr M Lynne Murphy
Senior Lecturer and Head of Department
Linguistics and English Language
Arts B135
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QN

phone: +44-(0)1273-678844

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

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