Any dry wine, as sherry sack, Madeira sack, Canary sack, and
Palm sack. (A corruption of the French sec, dry.)
A bag. According to tradition, it was the last word uttered
before the tongues were confounded at Babel. (Saxon, saec;
German, sack; Welsh, sach; Irish, sac; French,
sac, Latin, saccus; Italian, sacco; Spanish, sáco;
Greek, sakkos, Hebrew, sak; Swedish, sáck; etc.,
To get the sack
or To give one the sack. To get discharged by one's
employer. Mechanics travelling in quest
of work carried their implements in a bag or sack; when discharged,
they received back the bag that they might replace in it their tools,
and seek a job elsewhere. Workmen still often carry a bag of tools, but
so much is done by machines that bags of tools are decreasing.
The Sultan puts into a sack, and throws into the Bosphorus, any one
of his harem he wishes out of the way There are many cognate phrases,
as To give one the bag, and Get the bag, which is merely
substitutional. To receive the canvas is a very old expression,
referring to the substance of which the sack or bag was made. The
French Trousser vos quilles (pack up your ninepins or toys) is
another idea, similar to “Pack up your tatters and follow the drum.” (See Cashier.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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