Monday, April 30, 2018

Word of the Week - Grub

Today's Word of the Week comes as a special request from Lynne F.'s nephew, who asked about grub, and how/when it came to be a slang word for food.

Well, grub is the larva of an insect, and has meant that since the early 1400s. Etymologists aren't actually sure if it's from the verb grub, which means "to dig around in the dirt" and has been around since the 1300s, or from the unrelated Middle English word of the same sound and spelling that means "a dwarfish fellow."

By the 1650s, however, two different uses of the word had come into being. First, it can mean "a dull drudge." But also, the one more familiar to us today: "food." This sense came from birds eating grubs, but also because of how similar it sounds to bub, which was a popular drink at the time.


  1. Fascinating. I sure hope they weren't eating dwarfish fellows in England in the 1300s!

  2. So interesting! That explains where the word "grubby" comes from, as well ... if you've been rolling around in the dirt! ;)