A week ago, I wrote about how the verb to badger comes from a noun meaning "trader", and since then I found out more information and wanted to issue an update. Apparently there are two verbs spelled badger that respectively mean "to haggle" and "to harass", and it's considered unlikely that they are directly related, although the former may have influenced the development of the latter. That latter verb, which I didn't discuss last week, turns out to have an even more interesting origin. It was probably coined in reference to the practice of badger-baiting, a nasty blood sport where a dog was set to continuously attack a badger until it finally died. There were also some seventeenth-century allusions to the persistence of badgers to bite down on something until their teeth met, so those may have also influenced the meaning.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.