Where Did the Phrase “Grub Stake” For a Gold Prospector’s Credit Originate and What Does it Mean?

The first thing most poor gold prospectors needed to keep going was food and supplies.

They would make a deal to share their future success with a general store or a wealthy acquaintance in exchange for credit to buy food, shovels, picks, and a pan to sift the gravel of a stream for nuggets.

This credit was called a “grub stake.”

Grub, in this case, is a reference to shallow digging, as in “grubbing around.”

The word grub can also mean “food.”

Chowder derives from the French Canadian settler’s word chaudiere, a catch-all cooking pot for stews and soups made from whatever was at hand.

Potato comes from the Haitian aboriginal word batata through the Spanish patata for sweet potato.

Daiquiri is the name of a village in eastern Cuba.

Tequila is a liquor named after a town in west-central Mexico.

The word rum is an abbreviation of rumbullion.

Whiskey, as a word, comes from Gaelic and literally means “water of life”.

The word aquavit is derived from the Latin aqua vitae and also means “water of life”.

The word vodka in Russian literally means “little water”.

The word gin is a shortened form of the Swiss city Geneva, which in Middle Dutch is Geniver, which is also a name for the juniper tree that grows the berries that give the liquor gin its flavor.

The word lager in German means “storehouse,” therefore lager beer means “beer brewed for keeping”.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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