The word toboggan was first used in English in a British officer George Head's 1829 account of his exploration of the North American wilderness, where he spelled it tobogin. Later spellings included taboggan, tobaggan, tarboggin, toboggen, tarbogin, and several others; the current form was standardized in the late nineteenth century and the word got really popular in the 1880s. Head apparently got the word from French tabagane, and the French got it from either the M'ikmaq word tepaqan or the Abenaki word dabogan, which also referred to the type of flat-bottomed sled (these would both come from Proto-Algonquian). To toboggan first began to be used as a verb in 1846 and the phrase toboggan cap is from 1929. Usage of toboggan peaked in 1936 and has about halved in frequency since then.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a sophomore studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, and law.