gun·ny·sack (gŭn’ē-săk′)
n. Chiefly Western US A bag or sack made of gunny. Also called regionally crocus sack, croker sack, tow bag, tow sack.
Word History: A large sack made from loosely woven, coarse material goes by a variety of names in regional American English. The most general term is burlap bag, known everywhere but used especially in the Northeast. In the Midwest and West the usual term is gunnysack. The word gunny in gunnysack means "coarse heavy fabric made of jute or hemp" and originates in India. Although we are not certain from which language or languages of India the word was borrowed, words relating to sacks and sounding like gunny are widespread in the languages of India, such as Punjabi gūṇī, "sack," Marathi goṇī, "sackcloth," and Hindi gon,"sack." All of these Indian words ultimately descend from the Sanskrit word goṇī, "sack," and the Indian word was brought into English in the early 1700s through trade with India, where items were often packed for transport in sacks of jute or hemp. In the Upper South of the United States, on the other hand, a burlap bag can be called a tow sack, and in eastern North Carolina, a tow bag. The word tow (another synonym like burlap and gunny for "fabric made from jute or hemp") probably derives from an Old English word meaning "spinning." In South Carolina and adjacent parts of Georgia, however, a burlap bag can be called a crocus sack, and in the Gulf States, a croker sack, both terms deriving from the word crocus. According to Craig M. Carver, who draws on the research of Walter S. Avis, "crocus is a coarse, loosely woven material once worn by slaves and laborers and common in colonial New England. It probably took its name from the sacks in which crocus or saffron was shipped." Though the term crocus sack virtually disappeared from New England by the end of the 1800s, it survives in the South.

Word Histories. 2014.

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  • gunnysack — [gun′ēbag΄gun′ēsak΄] n. a sack or bag made of gunny: sometimes gunnybag [gun′ēbag΄] …   English World dictionary

  • gunnysack — /gun ee sak /, n. a sack made of gunny or burlap. Also called gunny bag /gun ee bag /. [1860 65; GUNNY + SACK1] Regional Variation. CROCUS SACK, CROKER SACK, GRASS SACK, and TOWSACK are widely used in the Southern U.S. as synonyms for GUNNYSACK;… …   Universalium

  • gunnysack — noun Etymology: gunny coarse fabric, of Indo Aryan origin; akin to Hindi gon sack, Punjabi gūṇī Date: 1799 a sack made of a coarse heavy fabric (as burlap) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • gunnysack — gun|ny|sack [ˈgʌnisæk] n AmE [Date: 1800 1900; Origin: gunny type of rough cloth (18 20 centuries) (from Hindi gani) + sack] a large bag made from rough material and used for storing grain, coal, potatoes etc …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • gunnysack — n. burlap sack, sack made from gunny …   English contemporary dictionary

  • gunnysack — noun (C) AmE a large bag made from hemp, in which coal, potatoes etc are stored …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • gunnysack — gun•ny•sack [[t]ˈgʌn iˌsæk[/t]] n. a sack made of gunny or burlap …   From formal English to slang

  • gunnysack — noun a bag made of burlap • Syn: ↑gunny sack, ↑burlap bag • Hypernyms: ↑bag …   Useful english dictionary

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