crocus sack

crocus sack n Also crocus bag, abbr crocus Also sp crokus (bag, sack), crokass bag [From obs crocus, a type of coarse linen cloth imported from central Europe and widely used in the British colonies for clothing slaves and as bagging, of unknown origin. (The widely repeated suggestion that the crocus sack was so-called because orig used to carry crocus—supposedly meaning “saffron”—is not supported by the evidence.)] chiefly S Atl, scattered Sth and NEng See Map Cf croker sack n, DCEU, DJE

A large bag of coarse material, gunny sack n.

[1696 (1699) Dickinson God’s Providence 35, My Wife had two pieces of Sail-Canvass given her; and I with others had each a Crocus Ginger Bagg. 1704 Boston News-Letter (MA) 13 Nov [2]/2, [Advt:] Ran-away on Wednesday last, . . a Sirrinam Indian Manslave . . : has on . . a Crocus Apron. 1764 in 1898 Brown John Hancock 44 Boston MA, Please to send by the Boston Packett . . a Bale of Crocus for Bread Bags, 7 or 800 yds., yd. wd. [DARE Ed: From a letter to Hancock’s London agent.]] 1767 SC & Amer. Gen. Gaz. (Charleston) 16 Oct 203/1, Found, Concealed in a hollow tree . . , being goods stolen by the Robbers, viz. Six yards of plaid [etc] . . ; an old crocus bag in which the above articles were tied up when found. 1790 in 1912 Augusta Co. VA Chronicles 1.509 VA, James McPheeters opened a negro grave and took therefrom the body, in order to dissect the same . . and after doing so, did sew him up in a crokass bag and put him in the cave within mentioned. [1825 Charleston Courier (SC) [17 Feb 3]/4, [Advt:] 50 pieces Crocus for bags.] 1858 FL Genl. Assembly Senate Jrl. 9.36, They are represented to be in sad want of clothing, the chief article of dress being composed of old crocus sacks which they had picked up. 1875 Daily Chron. & Sentinel (Augusta GA) 18 Nov [4]/1, One of the young men . . walked up to the object, which turned out to be a crocus sack within which something was struggling violently. 1888 Jones Negro Myths 123 GA, Eh graff um an eh pit um een one crocus bag. [=He grabbed him and he put him in a crocus bag.] 1898 Wilmington Messenger (NC) 29 July [4]/3, There was some rare fun over a bag race. There were six entries, each fellow having his feet and legs encased in a crocus sack. 1907 Augusta Chron. (GA) 7 Sept 5/6, After a while the teamster came back with his crokus, and . . leisurely dipped up the wasted grain, pouring it into the mouth of the new sack. 1918 Augusta Chron. (GA) 18 Jan 5/2, Three crokus bags of chewing gum, cigarettes and candy was taken. 1927 Adams Congaree 25 cSC [Black], Dey put her in a crocus sack an’ dragged her to de back door of heaven. 1939 LANE Map 150 (Sack) 9 infs, coastal ME, sRI, Martha’s Vineyard MA, Crocus bag; 1 inf, coastal ME, Crocus sack, 1 inf, coastal ME, Crocus. 1953 Tallahassee Democrat (FL) 30 July 8/7, The deputy said he found a five-gallon jug of ’shine hidden in a crocus sack Rollins had between his legs on the floor of the truck. 1958 PADS 29.9 TN, Crocus sack: A burlap bag. 1959 VT Hist. new ser 27.131 swVT Crocus bag. . . Occasional. Bennington. 1965–70 DARE (Qu. F23, A container made of rough, loosely woven, brown cloth; commonly used for potatoes) 15 Infs, chiefly SC, GA, Crocus sack; 12 Infs, chiefly SC, GA, Crocus bag; (Qu. F20, A cloth container for feed) Inf RI14, Crocus bag; ME11, Crocus sack; (Qu. F19, A cloth container for grain) Inf ME11, Crocus sack. 1969 Atlanta Constitution (GA) 13 Apr sec F 6/6, Once in the chicken house he stuffed his crokus sack with plump Cochin pullets. 1976 Daily World (Opelousas LA) 11 Nov 9/1, A piece of crocus sack strains the bits of stalk from the juice as it pours into the barrel. 1995 FL Today (Cocoa) 16 June sec B 5/2, The thieves work in small bands of three or four. They are armed only with crocus bags. 2011 Times & Democrat (Orangeburg SC) 29 Jan sec A 2/1, We always carried a crocus sack in which to place the fish we caught.

Etymological Supplement:

1654 in 1742 Thurloe Collection of the State Papers 2.403, Crocus canvas 8 pieces, worth 1½ xd. per piece.


1692 London Gaz. 1-5 Sept 2798.[2]/2, A Pack of Crocus, containing 50 Pieces, which was taken up in Bush lane, is supposed to have been delivered at a wrong place in September last, not being since heard of.)

<Burney Newspapers Coll.>

1728 Crouch Complete View British Customs, Part the Second 126, A Description of the several Sorts of Germany and East-Country Linens, that are now usually imported; with Examples of the Manner of their Delivery. Spruce Canvas. Under this Denomination are enter’d, Crocus, and (Flaxen, Headen and Hempen) Rolls. Crocus, The Pack or Bale, usually contains 50 Pieces. [“Spruce” here in its old sense of “Prussian.”]

<Eighteenth Century Collections Online>

1759 Brice Grand Gazetteer 1.680/2, The chief Export [from Hamburg] (chiefly to Gr. Britain) is of various Linens of several Countries; particularly Silesia Diapers and the Lawns of Misnia & Lusatia; Germany Linen from fr. Osnaburg, Lunenburg, &c. Hamburg Dowlas, and other strong Linen from Lower Saxony; coarse Linen, Barras, Crocus, Hinderlands, and many other Sorts fr. Lower Germany [etc].


(The OED offers three quotations to support the meaning ‘saffron’ at crocus n. 2; the first, from an Old English medical text, is probably valid, but the other two are not:

“1659  E. Gayton Art Longevity 54  Half a Crown in Crocus and Squills Wine.” From the context it is clear that this refers to the antimony compound, widely used at the time as an emetic, known more fully as crocus of antimony.

“1710 London Gaz. No. 4658/4 Two Bales of Crocus.” This clearly refers, like the examples assembled above, to the type of cloth.)