THE ULTIMATE CHUG JUG l Fortnite Battle Royale - YouTube

Search The Word Detective and our family of websites: This is the easiest way to find a column on a particular word or phrase.

I deeply appreciate the erudition and energy of our commenters. Your contributions to this site have been invaluable. But I can no longer devote the time necessary to separate good comments from the hundreds of spam comments submitted.

Because Wordpress weirdly doesn't allow me to simply turn off comments en masse, comment boxes will still appear at the foot of posts.

Dear Word Detective: When I was a kid, the older boys in my south Minneapolis neighborhood spent a lot of time building and riding go-carts. At least, they are called “go-carts” everywhere else in the world, including most of Minneapolis, but in our weird little micro-logoverse, they were called “chugs.” (They were not powered, which may have been implied.) Have you ever come across this, or is this the ultimate in regional dialect? — Charles Anderson.

Speaking of “go-carts,” which we use to mean a very simple, often home-made, racing car with or without an engine, I was surprised to see that the term dates all the way back to the 17th century. It was originally applied to a wheeled wooden frame in which children learned to walk without falling.

The most common use of “chug” is, no doubt, in reference to the sound of an engine, especially a steam engine, such as on a locomotive. Applied to a car engine or some other machinery, “chug” often indicates either that the contraption is under-powered or that the engine is running a bit roughly. “Chug” as a verb is also used, by extension, to mean “moving along slowly but steadily” (“After dinner we hit the road again, and passed Harry about 20 miles up the road, still chugging along in his old Pinto”).