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Author Topic: Why do people refer to food as 'grub'?  (Read 1275 times)


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Why do people refer to food as 'grub'?
« on: 06 October, 2013, 08:44:07 AM »
Surely Wichetty Grubs aren't eaten by enough people that they have come into such common parlance?

And why is grub usually up?  Never down, e.g. on a plate.
« Last Edit: 06 October, 2013, 11:21:32 AM by Wompon »

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Re: Why do people refer to food as 'grub'?
« Reply #1 on: 07 October, 2013, 11:46:35 AM »
The most common theory is that 'grub' (food') and 'grub' (insect) both come from the same root...which is explained below by Etymology Online...

They say that the verb 'grub' is first known since around 1300 AD ( *grubbian and from West Germanic *grubbjan) which means to dig. Indeed, we get our word 'grave' from the same root.

And words such as our to 'engrave' which comes from Old English grafan (medial -f- pronounced as "v" in Old English; past tense of 'grof', past participle grafen) "to dig, carve, dig up".

This we still keep in the sense of 'money-grubbing bankers' being gold-diggers with dirty hands.

This all suggests that while  'grub' was originally food such as potatoes and carrots that were dug up, it has now come to mean all food.

The insect 'grub' is thought to refer to the insect being a digging insect.

I find this all a but dubious but don't have anything better to replace it with.

And a grub screw (circa 1954) was presumably post-prandial hanky panky in the lunch break?


As to why 'grub is up' rather than down, I can only guess that this was because medieval kitchens were below stairs. Or else the 'up' is not a diection but is used in the same way that 'your time is up' refers to something being completed.

It's all a bit flimsy but if I dig up any better answer I'll let you know .
"I live in hope"