[Ads-l] New York Daily News interview request

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM
Tue Mar 1 22:49:48 UTC 2016

A few more guesses:

"weed" for marijuana may belong to the same pejorative category as "junk", "dope", or "shit" for heroin.

"grass" for marijuana may be due to the fact that marijuana plants are widely grown in the US but opium poppies and coca plants are not.

"roach" (as in "roach clip") for marijuana may come from the Spanish "cucaracha" ("cockroach"), and yes the song "La Cucaracha" is about marijuana smoking, at least in part:

     La cucaracha, la cucaracha       The cockroach, the cockroach
     Ya no puede caminar              No longer can move
     Porque no tiene, porque le falta Because he doesn't have, because he needs
     Marijuana que fumar              Marijuana to smoke

It is interesting that a drug addict is a "junkie" and not a "junker", the latter term being reserved for dysfunctional automobiles.  It seems much more likely that "junk" was the original term and "junkie" was derived from it; I doubt that "junkie" came first and "junk" for drugs came from a shortening.

- Jim Landau

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

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