• Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

Ahem, Matt:

The word "mug." It means so many things. Why does it mean a cup and a face and to get robbed? Where did that useful word come from?

-- Jeff, Escondido

Eight meanings, both nouns and verbs. And all come from one source: an old Scandinavian word meaning "drinking vessel." The word sat around meaning drinking vessel for a few hundred years until the British invented the Toby or character jug -- a drinking mug formed in the shape of a man's head with three-dimensional features. So, in the 1600s, "mug" took on the added meaning of "face." Because the jug faces were male, "mug" also came to mean an ordinary guy, or maybe a fool. By the mid-1800s, when cameras came in, "mugging" meant making a face. By the turn of the century, if you got punched in the face, you were "mugged." Can't wait to see what's next.

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from SDReader

More from the web

Comments

Sign in to comment

Join our
newsletter list

Enter to win $25 at Broken Yolk Cafe

Each newsletter subscription
means another chance to win!

Close