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Old 08-12-2007, 06:26 AM
Jinx Jinx is offline
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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?
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Old 08-12-2007, 07:27 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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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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Old 08-12-2007, 10:13 AM
matt_mcl matt_mcl is offline
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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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