up sticks/up stakes: eggcorn origin?

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Fri May 18 01:32:16 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.

There's also (related?) "cut stick" (also "cut one's stick") = "depart"; I
see this from the 1830's (US and UK); I don't see it in my OED at a glance,
but maybe it's there somewhere.

OED has examples of "cut it" = "depart": does "it" originally mean "stick"?

This also appears as "cut [one's] sticks", which I see from the 1850's.
This seems less sensible if "stick" basically = "walking stick".

-- Doug Wilson

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