The Etymology Of Haversack

We were talking about rucksacks and backpacks, discussing whether the two words are interchangeable. I said I thought I detected a division in the use of the words. I think we use backpack for something smaller, urban, probably zipped. And we use rucksack for something bigger, more for the countryside, with a drawstring.

The talk turned to haversacks, a word that is British English and going out of fashion, a word for a bag carried on the back or over the shoulder, used especially by soldiers and walkers. I guess the shoulder bag is the equivalent today – or did that grow out of the messenger bag – a bag stretched to fit a laptop or large envelopes and packages.

I wondered what the etymology of haversack was and I wondered whether it was to do with havermout, which is the Dutch word for oatmeal.

And so it is:

Haversack: Mid 18th century: from French havresac, from obsolete German Habersack, denoting a bag used by soldiers to carry oats as horse feed, from dialect Haber ‘oats’ + Sack ‘sack, bag’.


Show Me All The Tops In Green

With our attention spans dwindling to zero, and with online shops wanting to deliver a frictionless experience, the keyboard and mouse have surely got to go. It’s just too much effort to tap the keys.

It will have to be done by voice. Commands and questions by voice.

We ask the computer to take us to Amazon, or Gap, or East, or whatever and then we ask for what we want.

‘Show me all the tops in green, size 12’
‘Home in on the one with the boat neck.’
‘I’ll have that one and the one in taupe.’

And that’s how it will go.