pourboire - what are its origins?

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Aishana, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. Aishana Senior Member

    US English
    Does anyone know the origins of the expression "pourboire"? I know that it means "tip," but why does it refer specifically to drinks and when did it expand to mean "extra money for many things/efforts". Someone told me that the American word "tip" stands for "To Insure Promptness". Any thoughts on the accuracy of that explanation?

    Merci comme d'habitude!
  2. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    My understanding of pourboire is that it means pour boire, i.e. some money the server can use to buy a drink.

    It won't be long before somebody comes along and debunks that theory... :)
  3. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Another one of those absurdities that people repeat without any supporting evidence.

    See the myth busters at: http://www.snopes.com/language/acronyms/tip.asp
  4. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Moderator note: Thread moved To EHL forum.
  5. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    This is almost certainly so. There is the equivalent term Trinkgeld/drinkgeld ("drinking money") in German/Dutch. One is probably a loan translation of the other but in which way it went I don't know. The German/Dutch term actually also exists as a loan word (not a loan translation) in some French (Belgium and Northern France): dringuelle.
  6. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    Your assumptions seem correct. The CNRTL give a good account of the origins of pourboire. It's an old term going all the way back to Molière, attested in 1662 (École des femmes): Voilà pour boire.
  7. In BrE there's a phrase "Have a drink on me", sometimes used when giving a tip. There's also a (mainly Cockney London, I think) slang synonym "drink" for "tip". It's also used to mean a not very large informal payment for services rendered: "There'll be a drink in it for you if you can fix this for me".

    Given that beer used to be the staple drink instead of polluted water, it would seem natural to give somebody something extra to buy a beer with at the local tavern.
  8. francisgranada Senior Member

    For curiosity, also in Slovak slang/dialects as tringel.

    In Hungarian this word is borravaló, where bor is "wine" and való means approximately "being for".
  9. vianie Senior Member

    Is it tringelt.
  10. francisgranada Senior Member

    Even better :). In the East of Slovakia it's really tringel (but it's not important from the point of view of the original question).
  11. ce que est est Senior Member

    United States, English
    Just speculating, but I wouldn't be surprised if tip was connected to tippling (to sell liquor), ultimately to what survives today in the word tipsy.
  12. Lugubert Senior Member

    One more: Swedish drickspengar is drink - (connecting 's') - money.
  13. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    The process is дать на чай /dat' na tchay/- give for tea
    The money is чаевые /tchayevye/ - lit. "tea [money]"

    So, the idea is similar to pourboire
  14. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    Priviet Rusita. Thanks for the info. Just a quick question. Which syllable is that stressed on "tcháyevye, tchayévye, tchayevýe"? Spasiba.
  15. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    The stress is on ы, tchayevýe
  16. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Grimm has attestations of the German equivalent in this meaning as of the 14 century, i.e. 300 years earlier. So, the French term could be a loan translation from German or Dutch.
  17. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    The same in Danish: Drikkepenge

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