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TomH
01-16-2000, 07:04 PM
What's the etymology?

I suspected that it was one of those words which entered English from another language (?Gaelic) and was unrelated to the verb to drag. The OED seems to suggest otherwise though it doesn't give any specific etymology for that usage but notes that it is American and mostly used in the phrase, "main drag".

I also have a feeling that this sense of "drag" was used in 19th Century English criminal cant, but I can't find any references for it.

Boris B
01-16-2000, 07:44 PM
The city's main drag would be the place most people would tow, or drag their wagons. Other streets might be too narrow for anything but people and horses, I suppose. Drag is related to draw and draught. So the draught horses would draw the cart or wagon down the drag.

That's the only explanation I've heard for the relation to street.

Two explanations for applying drag to women's clothes worn by men: cross-dressing males would hang out near the main street looking for action; women's clothes are so long they drag on the ground.

pmh
01-16-2000, 08:57 PM
This question circulates occasionally among racers and has not (to my knowledge) been satisfactorally answered.
Explanations I have heard (and cannot verify):

Drag in reference to a street:
When a town was formed, the original, primitive "streets" were created by dragging a sledge over the area to level it and remove vegetation. So the street was referred to as a "drag".

Drag in reference to racing:
When challenged, the challengee would reply,
1) "Meet me on 'the drag' and prove it".
2) "Drag that POS out to (x location) and prove it".