I used the phrase “tuckered out” recently and, as it happens from time to time, I wondered what on earth I was really saying. I mean, was there a guy named Tucker who was famous for being lazy or tired? Did it have anything to do with the now-defunct car company of the same name? Where did it come from?
Well, according to the internet (and you can always believe the internet), it comes from the Old English root word “tuck” which means “punish or torment”. So to be tuckered would be the same as being punished or tormented. Kind of harsh, but I can see the correlation. If you work hard all day, punishing your body with strenuous activity, of course you are going to be tuckered out.
The phrase gained popularity in the vernacular of the Old West, where it is seldom used without the prefix “plumb”, as in, “Diggin’ in that gol’ danged gold mine has left me plumb tuckered out!” And since plumb means “whole or entire”, it just amplifies the meaning of being tired to mean “completely worn out”. This isn’t to be confused with plum, which is a fruit.
So the next time you use the phrase “tuckered out” or “plumb tuckered out”, remember that you are really saying that something was torturous, so maybe refrain from using the phrase if you are tired because you just got done doing something enjoyable. Like mowing. Or something else you might enjoy that takes significant amounts of energy.
What? Some people really like mowing.