What Lost Luggage Led Me To Find


My son’s luggage got lost at O’Hare International Airport last weekend. It’s still missing in action, to his extreme annoyance.

As I texted him for an update, the lug in luggage leapt out at me. Did the two words share etymological DNA?

Sure enough, at etymonline.com, I found that luggage derives from the late 14th-century lug, meaning “to move (something) heavily or slowly.” Even better, lug derives from the Swedish lugga and Norwegian lugge, “to pull by the hair.” Ouch.

Luggage emerged about a hundred years later, meaning “what has to be lugged about.” By the 20th century, it referred to “baggage belonging to passengers.”

True to lug’s Scandinavian roots, my son will be pulling his hair out if his bag doesn’t show up at his doorstep soon. What a drag.

In the meantime, I have newfound respect for the word luggage. I love words that tell a good story.

I’ll never call it a suitcase again.


Thanks for this. I love word origins.

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