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Does "shag" have any currency in modern day AE to mean "chase and bring back, fetch (an escaped animal/prisoner)"?

Is its use limited to the pursuit of runaways, or can it be extended to a broader meaning to "chase and bring back, fetch"?

Also, can it be followed by "after", and then switch to the sense "chase in order to bring back or to stop/catch) as in "He shagged after the ambulance", and (with reference to a baseball game) "He shagged after the ball"?

Consider the following examples:

One day one of my squad managed to shag a runaway camel. source

What Mr. Richter does is shag the escaped four wheel buffalo. source

I don't run bases and don't shag after the balls. source

...to shag runaway frogs...source


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Wow, Shaggy and Scooby must be much sexier in England … – David M Mar 6 '14 at 19:15
David M, for some reason, that cartoon didn't cause much laughter regarding the names, over here. – Tristan r Mar 6 '14 at 19:47
Nourished Gourmet, it wouldn't be a good idea to use examples like that with British people. They are likely to be thought of as very crude references to a very different subject. – Tristan r Mar 6 '14 at 19:50
@Tristanr The thing is I still don't know if "shag" can be "safely" used in modern AE to mean "chase and bring back, fetch" in a broader context than baseball, as shown in some of my examples. – Elian Mar 6 '14 at 20:03
NG, I don't know if you've realized yet that most dictionaries are crap. – Mitch Mar 7 '14 at 3:31
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Shag is still used all the time in my region during baseball practices or in pregame warm-ups. It is when players go to the outfield to catch fly balls during batting practice.

Common sentence:

Coach: "Do six of you need to be getting ready to hit at the same time? The next person up stay here. The rest of you grab your gloves and go shag some balls."

The players would then stand around in the outfield in a relaxed way. They would take turns catching balls hit as practice and then throw the balls back to the pitching mound.

Here is what players look like shagging balls:

enter image description here

Note: The coach probably expects the players to be spread around the outfield. But this is what happens. They all stand around talking taking turns catching balls. What happens when the ball isn't hit near them? Well this differs by team but they take turns or make the least senior guy chase after them.

(I disagree with the other answer because at least now it has a very specific usage in baseball)

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RyeBread, doesn't that ever cause laughing and joking? Hearing that in my part of the world might result in this staffingtalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/OhBehave.jpg – Tristan r Mar 6 '14 at 18:59
@Tristanr - it honestly doesn't elicit many jokes. There are tons of other things to crack jokes about with baseball vernacular. – RyeɃreḁd Mar 6 '14 at 19:05
@Tristanr There really is very little connection with the British meaning of the word here. – David M Mar 6 '14 at 19:11
RyeBread, that's surprising. I haven't stopped laughing since I started reading this page. It's tshirtmuseum.com/assets/images/shirts/shagadelic.JPG and quickmeme.com/img/42/… – Tristan r Mar 6 '14 at 19:15
@Tristanr - we have balls, long bats, the term hole, double/triple play... probably missing like 20 other terms that can be made into constant sexual jokes. – RyeɃreḁd Mar 6 '14 at 19:17

Shagging in AmE does not carry the connotation of sexual intercourse. Most Americans are familiar with the term, however, thanks to Mike Meyer's Austin Powers movies. But any usage by an American is either an impression or an attempt to sound like a hipster.

Apart from shagging fly balls in baseball (which is absolutely current usage) people also use the term to apply to golf balls at a driving range. The guy whose unenviable job it is to retrieve the golf balls is said to be shagging balls.

The term to my ear is usually only applied to sport balls that require retrieval. (Although, shag carpeting, shag hair cuts, shaggy dogs, Shaggy and Scooby, etc.)

My WAG (Wild Assed Guess) is that the concept of catching or retrieving is intimately tied to the origins of the sexual connotation. So, if anything we're using the older meaning …

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David M, the examples given by you and RyeBread seem like very crude references to a very different subject, in my part of the world. – Tristan r Mar 6 '14 at 19:30
@Tristanr as I said above Shaggy and Scooby must have been much sexier overseas! – David M Mar 6 '14 at 19:35
David M, this is too much for me. I must lie down now. – Tristan r Mar 6 '14 at 19:51

'Shag'has no fewer than five separate entries in Oxford Dictionaries.

The most obvious is the vulgar slang term for sexual intercourse, which is predominantly British, Australian etc., and is both verb and noun.

As a separate meaning Shagged = exhausted.

American references are: noun, shag, meaning:

a dance originating in the US in the 1930s and 1940s, characterised by vigorous hopping from one foot to the other - possibly from obsolete shag 'waggle'.

verb* BASEBALL chase or catch (fly balls) for practice, early 20th century - of unknown origin.

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And let's not forget the popular haircut of the late 1970s called the "shag"—the acme of style if you fluffed it properly and avoided its mullet tendencies. – Sven Yargs Mar 6 '14 at 20:59
And that one-time favorite of interior decorators: shag carpet – Cyberherbalist Mar 6 '14 at 22:54

"Shag" was formerly used for catching a thrown or batted baseball, but I haven't heard the usage for a long time. Otherwise not. And not recently, in my experience. It might be a regional thing, though, and perhaps used more commonly elsewhere than the Pacific NW, where I live.

One might shag baseballs, but not runaways.

These days, "shag" seems to be more frequently used as a euphemism for sexual intercourse than catching balls.

What is that about "snag"? Spelling error?

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It's commonplace enough to me in the US Midwest - but I haven't heard it since my brothers used to play ball in the neighborhood. (In the 1960's) – Kristina Lopez Mar 6 '14 at 18:42
@Cyberherbalist Yeah, a spelling error. Thanks for pointing out. – Elian Mar 6 '14 at 19:10
Perhaps you haven't been to a baseball practice in a while? I've heard it fairly recently in that setting. – David M Mar 6 '14 at 19:24
I can never understand how anyone fails to catch a baseball with that huge glove they wear. It would seem easier to catch it than to drop it. In cricket we catch a very similar ball with our bare hands. – WS2 Mar 6 '14 at 21:20
Not catch a ball? Lose it in the bright sky. Lose it in the lights at night. Not be able to get to it in time. Collide with another player (or trying to avoid colliding with them). Be on the Warning Track and glancing at the brick wall you don't want to run into. Confusion over who has called for the ball when two or more players are in the vicinity. Taking a misstep. Trying to catch a blazing line drive. BTW, in the early days of BB, there were no gloves. – Phil Perry Mar 6 '14 at 21:49

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