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Old 03 July 2007, 07:52 PM
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Icon220 Wearing drag

Comment: I had someone tell me that the word "drag" as it is used in the
phrase "wearing drag" come from Shakespeare. They said that since men
played all the parts in theatre, when the script had an entrance cue for a
woman's part it would say "Enter in [character's name] - DrAG" with the
acronym meaning "dressed as girl." Various things make me 99% sure this
is wrong; I hope the guy playing Ophelia doesn't need reminding that he
should be wearing women's clothing, and the fact that the acronym doesn't
make sense when used in other phrases. I am just looking for someone else
to back me up and possibly answer the question of where it really does
come from.
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Old 03 July 2007, 07:55 PM
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Quote:
I had someone tell me that the word "drag" as it is used in the
phrase "wearing drag" come from Shakespeare.
Aside from the dodgy etymological issues, people should learn that Shakespeare was neither the only playwright of his time nor the only person writing plays that called for men to portray women on stage (either because using only male actors was the custom or because the plots involved male characters masquerading as women).

- snopes
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Old 03 July 2007, 07:57 PM
Lee Orac
 
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dictionary.com has this in the etymology:

sense of "women's clothing worn by a man" is said to be 1870 theater slang, from the sensation of long skirts trailing on the floor (another guess is Yiddish trogn "to wear," from Ger. tragen); drag queen is from 1941.
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Old 03 July 2007, 09:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Aside from the dodgy etymological issues, people should learn that Shakespeare was neither the only playwright of his time nor the only person writing plays that called for men to portray women on stage (either because using only male actors was the custom or because the plots involved male characters masquerading as women).

- snopes
Not the custom but the law. In Shakespare's day, it was illegal for a woman to appear on stage, which is why the chicks are all dudes - a practice I will be reversing when Titus Andronicus opens on Saturday.

I don't know about this one, but it's kind of a general rule that any folk etymology that claims something is an abbreviation from before WW1 is probably bs.
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Old 14 July 2008, 11:11 AM
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Yeah, it's far more plausable, that "drag" came from dresses and skirts dragging on the floor than from an acronym for "dressed as a girl", because acronyms didn't become common until the 20th century.
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Old 18 July 2008, 03:44 PM
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I think the Yiddish/German explanation works - "drag" is part of the Polari lexicon, which gets its vocabulary from all sorts of places, including Yiddish.

In that context it could refer to any clothes or outfit, as well as a cross-dressing ("bona drag", thanks Morrissey ) .
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