4

Over the years I've noticed a non-insignificant amount of people use the term 'My bag' to admit guilt when getting something wrong (i.e. 'Mea culpa'). For example:

Happy Birthday!
My birthday's not for another 2 days
Oh, my bag

I understood the correct — albeit slang — term to be 'My bad'. My question is why is 'My bag' so often used instead?

Is it simply a misnomer, perhaps stemming from 'That's not my bag' (i.e. Not my area of expertise [hence I got it wrong])?

Edit: I live in the UK, but understand the etymology of 'My bag' comes from the US.

6
  • 1
    Add a location please. Is it the USA? Which state? Which city/town/shack? I'm presuming this is the US because of the phrasing but if it's the UK, Australia, South Africa etc. you should tell us.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 10:29
  • 1
    Do you have any examples (e.g. recordings) of this?
    – alphabet
    Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 12:45
  • 6
    I have never heard "my bag" in this sense.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 13:27
  • 1
    This sounds like a mondegreen, people have jmust misheard the phrase.
    – Barmar
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 18:20
  • 1
    OED has "my bad" in this sense, but not "my bag".
    – GEdgar
    Commented Apr 23 at 2:01

2 Answers 2

4

So, this is actually one of my pet peeves. "My bag" is the original. The card game Spades is popular among U.S. jail and prison populations. Part of the partner game is counting how many hands you will win, and bidding correctly, without seeing your partner's hand. You only get points for hands you bid. Every hand you win above the amount you bid is called a "bag". If you get enough "bags", you loose a lot of points, like 10 for 100, IIRC. So, the player who under-bid would say "my bag" to accept responsibility for bidding wrong. It eventually percolated from Spades players to the culture at large. Young people heard their elders say "my bag" and didn't understand, so figured they must have misheard "my bad". Fact, I watched it happen.

5
  • 1
    See also Urban Dictionary: 1, 2. Other discussions: 3, 4
    – user182601
    Commented Apr 23 at 3:32
  • 1
    I was today years old when I learned this -- what an excellent answer! +1 :) Commented Apr 23 at 6:23
  • 3
    I can't read the preceding / following pages, but Social and Regional Variation in World Englishes page 162 appears to demolish this "folk etymology" (which it ascribes to Urban Dictionary). They put the meteoric rise of syntactically challenging my bad (and associated mis-hearing mis-transcription my bag) down to a combination of (primarily America) Anglophone movies, and text-based (social) media intercourse facilitated by the Internet. Sounds more plausible to me than playing card bids. Commented Apr 23 at 14:16
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers: I'm not sure how that one paragraph in that book "demolishes" Joe Blow's "folk etymology". That paragraph merely states that "my bad may be observed even before the 1980s". Nowhere does that paragraph claim that my bag (1) was not also observed before the 1980s; (2) has nothing to do with the card game spades; (3) cannot possibly be the origin of my bad; and (4) is instead derived from misshearing my bad (as you claim).
    – user182601
    Commented Apr 24 at 6:15
  • I'm in no doubt the card bidding etymology is spurious, but that's the best refutation I could easily find. I certainly wouldn't set much store by anything in Urban Dictionary Commented Apr 24 at 10:43
-1

"My bad" means "my fault", "my bag" on the other hand means "that bag is owned by me". But I can definitely see how the words "bad" and "bag" can be confused with one another when pronounced in certain accents, especially in the accents in which final consonants are weakly pronounced.

3
  • 2
    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Apr 23 at 5:57
  • 1
    Are you referring to the 'unreleased' final consonants? I could easily imagine g◌̚ being misheard as d̚. If not for the etymology provided in the other answer, your explanation would seem to be the most likely, but it seems like "my bag" was actually the original version. Still, it seems possible that the "bag" form of the expression might in some cases have "re-evolved" from a mishearing of the newer (and much more common) "bad" form. Frequency comparison: books.google.com/ngrams/… Commented Apr 23 at 6:43
  • 1
    (Sorry, those diacritic marks really didn't render well.) Like the Community user's comment says, you might want to consider editing your answer to provide more details: it is somewhat vague as-is (which accents - west/central US? does "weakly pronounced" mean unreleased? maybe the large difference in usage frequency shown in the Ngram could be evidence to support your hypothesis that the "bag" form as a mishearing is as/more likely than its being intentional?). Commented Apr 23 at 6:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.