English : Bootleggers





What is the origin of the word Bootleggers?

By Mr. Cabriel, Norway – 6th June 2007.

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Bootleggers as you know are people who brew and sell illicit liquor. The word was first coined in the United States in the mid 19 century. It gained popularity within America, however, when the country went through a dry spell (prohibition) between 1920-1933. People who were fond of hard drinks had to depend on bootleggers to wet their palates. Bootleggers brewed whiskey in the outskirts of towns and cities. As it was illegal to sell whiskey in the open market, the dealers had to find ingenious ways of bringing the bottles into towns and cities. One method they employed was to hide the bottles inside the tall boots they used to wear. Since they hid the bottles in their boots they began to be called bootleggers.

The original bootlegger was someone who sold illicit liquor. When someone bootlegged, he sold whiskey illegally. Nowadays, the word is being used in a very general sense. When you say that someone is bootlegging, it doesn't necessarily imply that he is making or selling illicit liquor. He could be making copies of videotapes and selling them illegally. Video piracy is a form of bootlegging.

Here are a few examples.

• Prakash was caught bootlegging Windows 2000 CDs.

• Amrita bought a bootleg CD of last night's concert.

• My friend Rajesh bootlegs videotapes in Chor Bazaar.


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