Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mommy, what's a toerag?

spoiler alert: this post makes reference to the March 15 episode on CBC

Poor New Amy! Surrounded on all sides by fags, booze and conflict. If she ever makes it out of elementary school unscathed, it'll be a minor miracle. The latest chapter in the education of Ms. Amy is David Platt charging into the Rovers, shouting the odds and yelling at the elder Barlows - just because Tracy stitched up Gail in prison and the coppers found an incriminating kitchen utensil (damn Joe McIntyre and his penchant for baking bad shortbread - if he had been a good chef, Gail wouldn't have had to hide the rolling pin and she wouldn't be facing 20 to life in prison). But I digress. Back to New Amy (now with the ability to speak - ed)  Becky consoles the young lass and tells her not to worry about silly old David Platt because he's "just a toerag."  But then Amy says: "What's a toerag?"

Well, I'm glad you asked... 

TOE-RAG Pronunciation [toh] [rag]Function: 

        derogatory or pejorative term 
       (as in "David/Tracy/Owner of La Belle is a toerag")
Toe, origin uncertain. Rag from Old English raggig ; related to Old Norse rögg tuft Manchester-area dialect origins date back to the first knicker factory when one of the machinists said that another machinist's work was of poor quality and resembled a "rag" fit only to wipe the the forepart of the human foot. The term was subsequently employed by many working class denizens including Ray Langton. (For more information please consult Roy Cropper or the Weatherfield Historical Society -- although Roy may be preoccupied with Salsa 'issues'))
14th century (first used by Ena Sharples, I believe)
1: convicts used to tie cloths around their feet as do-it-yourself socks (made by Underworld? - ed) so they were often described as "toe rags" aka criminals, thieves and reprobates. Somewhat ironic when you consider that Tracy is, in fact, both a convict and a toerag. Note: it is sometimes seen spelled as 'Tow Rag' when referring to Kevin Webster's behaviour or orange truck.

2: A useless or disagreeable individual (like David Platt) may employ the phrase to describe a useless or disagreeable person (like David Platt) -- of which there are many in Coronation Street.

3: A piece of material used to tow a boat back to shore or back to safety. As in when David Platt, the toe rag, used a tow rag to pull Joe's boat back to the cottage on Lake Windermere and then dried his feet with a (you guessed it) toe rag.

* If you want more actual useful info about toerag, check this entry in wiktionary)


  1. Actually, as a textile historian, I feel compelled to inform you that toe-rag is a modern misspelling. Tow one of thee lowest grades of linen or hemp cloth, used for clothing slaves or various other utilitarian purposes.

    Here are some other sources of possible origin:
    TOW-RAG. A wastrel; someone beneath contempt.(Incorrectly spelled ‘toe-rag’ in modern English). A tow-rag was a rag made of ‘tow’, or hemp, used to staunch wounds by naval surgeons and then thrown away.

    Tow Rag
    Means a low-life, scum, or loser.

    Originally a British Royal Naval term. This was a long piece of rope, either frayed at the end, or with a bit of rag tied to the end of it, permanently fixed to a ship, which was dangled into the sea, and therefore, towed, next to the wooden plank with a hole in it which was secured over the edge of the ship, used as a toilet. After the sailor had finished his ablutions, he lifted the rope out of the water, and then wiped his rear-end clean with the wet, frayed end of the rope, and when he finished wiping, the soiled end of the rope was dropped back into the sea to clean itself as it was towed along by the ship. a Towed Rag.
    You Tow rag...
    2. Tow Rag
    Originally was Tow Rag from the red rag tied to the end of a truck carrying a long load (in England) or the rag tied to the rope towing another vehicle so people would not decapitate themselves by going through the gap.

    Pretty well the rear end of everything and of no other use. (Being polite here)

  2. Thanks for the comment and I really don't know what to say except that I feel a bit like a tow rag (not toe rag)in light of your etymology. Of course, I'll never touch another rope on a boat...
    all the best, CH

  3. Thanks for (yet another) LOL.