Donkey jacket

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I hope it isn't against the rules to post something in two forums. I posted the following in the etymology forum but nobody has replied and it's going to drop of the board fairly soon. There may be people in this forum who can help:

I know the meaning of "Donkey jacket". It's a short thick jacket, often worn by workmen. My research so far shows that it originated in 1929.

Can anybody tell me its etymology, please? Is it analogous to some sort of covering put on a donkey's back, or is "donkey" a corruption from another word? Or...... what, please?
 
  • gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Perhaps the fact that it has a waterproof panel on the back is reminiscent of a protective cloth placed on a donkey's back.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    This site suggests that the name derives from the fact that it was worn by workmen doing the "donkey work".

    That sounds plausible, but I haven't as yet found anything to back it up.
     
    This site suggests that the name derives from the fact that it was worn by workmen doing the "donkey work".

    That sounds plausible, but I haven't as yet found anything to back it up.
    That does sound plausible, doesn't it?

    It was pointed out to me that they often have leather or plastic shoulder pads, to protect the coat from abrasion by heavy things such as building materials carried on the shoulders. That is consistent with "donkey work".

    Any more ideas, please?!
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    One more idea, I'm pleased to report:

    From The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language, by Melvyn Bragg
    http://books.google.com/books?id=nl...&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=7&ct=result
    ... "donkey engine" (leading to donkey jacket, because donkey engines were usually on board ship and very cold to work)...
    The text suggests that that both phrases were extant prior to 1851.

    The "steam donkey" or "donkey engine" in wikipedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_donkey
     
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