Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 639 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GRUB, the larva of an insect, a caterpillar, maggot. The word is formed from the verb " to grub," to dig, break up the surface of the ground, and clear of stumps, roots, weeds, &c. According to the New English Dictionary, " grub " may be referred w an ablaut variant of the Old Teutonic grab-, to dig, cf. " grave." Skeat (Etym. Diet. 1898) refers it rather to the root seen in " grope," " grab," &c., the original meaning " to search for." The earliest quotation of the slang use of the word in the sense of food in the New English Dictionary is dated 1659 from Ancient Poems, Ballads, &c., Percy Society Publications. " Grub-street," as a collective term for needy hack-writers, dates from the 17th century and is due to the name of a street near Moorfields, London, now Milton Street, which was as Johnson says " much inhabited by writers of small histories, dictionaries and temporary poems."
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