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#1
08-12-2007, 07:26 AM
 Jinx Member Join Date: Dec 1999 Location: Lost In Space Posts: 7,778
Origin of Picket Line?

I seem to recall once reading that a picket line is the name for when a horse is left to graze being tethered to a rope - as opposed to being corralled. Is this the correct term, or is there a similar term I may be thinking of?
#2
08-12-2007, 08:27 AM
 RealityChuck Charter Member Join Date: Apr 1999 Location: Schenectady, NY, USA Posts: 40,714
Probably. A "picket" -- meaning a stake in the ground, dates from 1687 and the first reference to a place to tie horses was in 1702.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by OED 1687 J. TAYLOR Tresaurarium Mathematicae xiii. 286 [To lay down on the Ground any of the former Fortifications] Mark out the Diametrical lines, and making them their due length,..set Piquets, on all the P, P's upright with the Plane. . . . .1702 Mil. Dict., Picket, or Piquet, is a Stake sharp at the end, which serves to mark out the Ground, and Angles of a Fortification, when the Ingenier is laying down the Plan... Pickets are also Stakes drove into the Ground, by the Tents of the Horse in the Field to tye their Horses to.
However, "picket" also has the meaning "a detachment of troops" at the same time.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by OED 1703 London Gaz. No. 3923/2, Our Piquet Guard was..ordered out to attack them. 1746 A. STONE Let. 24 Apr. in T. J. McCann Corr. Dukes of Richmond & Newcastle (1984) 211 Three piquets of French surrendered themselves prisoners, amounting to about 300 Men.
The OED indicates that "strikers" comes from this definition.

"Picket line" dates from 1768, and derives from the definition "stake" with "line" meaning "rope" (i.e., the rope connecting picket posts). It later was used to mean a line of soldiers (1847) and eventually, a line of strikers (1894).
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#3
08-12-2007, 11:13 AM
 matt_mcl Guest Join Date: Mar 1999 Location: Montreal Posts: 20,201
Quote:
 Originally Posted by RealityChuck The OED indicates that "strikers" comes from this definition. "Picket line" dates from 1768, and derives from the definition "stake" with "line" meaning "rope" (i.e., the rope connecting picket posts). It later was used to mean a line of soldiers (1847) and eventually, a line of strikers (1894).
Huh, crazy. I always figured that it came from the picket signs, which I assumed to be called that because they're attached to, well, pickets. I had no idea it was the other way around.

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