Bag and Baggage

Meaning of “Bag and Baggage”

The phrase “bag and baggage” means everything a person is carrying with him or has them at home. The phrase is often used to tell about a person’s total possessions.

Origin of “Bag and Baggage”

The phrase ‘bag and baggage’ might have originated from ‘military’ usage which means a soldier’s possessions when he goes to the battlefield or on a journey. It is also stated that this is an archaic phrase, having witnessed various stages in its evolution in its long life. Its first printed shape is stated to have been used in The Firste Volum of John Froissart, a book of John Berners published in 1525, and second use is found in Shakespeare’s play As You Like It, published in 1600. The phrase in this play goes thus: “Let us make an honorable retreit, though not with bagge and baggage, yet with scrip and scrippage.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Things Ain’t Working Out Down at the Farm written by Philip Parris Lynott and sung by Thin Lizzy

Things ain’t working out down at the farm
Got no bag or baggage or love to keep me warm
And I ain’t been in trouble since the day I was born
Things ain’t working out down at the farm

I used to spend my sunny days supping always
Along came the forbidden and he put me away
Down at the station was kept for strays
And I went laughing, geez he like busting me,
He liked busting me

The song sums up the life of the speaker. These two stanzas allude to his whole life as if they are the days spent on a ranch with nothing. The speaker explains that he is not living a good life on the ranch as he has “no bag and baggage.” The second stanza supplements this thematic idea further that the person who met him during his escapades was a policeman. He might have been arrested.

Example #2

Explodes by Kasabian

I think alone at night
I find it hard to sleep
Reliving memories
I’m sick of counting sheep

I have my bag and baggage
To keep me warm
I zip my coat up tight
As I walk into the storm

The poet thinks that loneliness doesn’t let him sleep. He is forced to replay his memories in his mind. However, wherever he goes, he ensures that he should have his “bag and baggage” which are the material needs. He talks about the storm which could be internal as well as external challenges. He believes that his possessions will provide himself every comfort and protection.

Example #3

Drakestail by Andrew Lang

‘Happy thought!’ says my friend Ladder, and nimble, bag and baggage, goes to keep company with friend Fox.

And, ‘Quack, quack, quack.’ Drakestail is off again, singing and spruce as before. A little farther he meets his sweetheart, my friend, River, wandering quietly in the sunshine.

‘Thou, my cherub,’ says she, ‘wither so lonesome, with arching tail, on this muddy road.?’

I am going to the king, you know, for what he owes me.’

‘Oh! Take me with thee!’

Drakestail said to himself: ‘ We can’t be too many friends.’…’I will,’ says he, ‘but you who sleep while you wall will soon be tired. Make yourself quite small, get into my throat – go into my gizzard and I will carry you.’

‘Ah!, happy thought!’ says my friend River.

She takes bag and baggage, and glou, glou, glou, she takes her place between friend Fox and my friend Ladder.

Drakestail is a French fairytale. It revolves around the duck named, Drakestail who finds a coin. The coin is taken by the kingsmen. In this paragraph, Drakestail is going to meet the king to take his coin back. Drakestail tells that not many can go with him. However, it later makes four friends, a fox, a ladder, a river, and a bees’ nest. They all find a place in Drakestail’s throat. The phrase has been used in the first line as well as in the last line to show that it is taking everyone to the palace. It also points out her journey with his possessions which are also Drakestail’s friends.

Example #4

Save the Day by Joseph H. Maddox

After a couple of weeks of supervising various base housekeeping details at Hamilton, AFB, the duo got their sailing orders. With bag and baggage, they with about six hundred other servicemen of various US forces, were herded into olive drab military buses and transported to San Francisco, where their ship was waiting, the USNS General Walker. Everyone lined up on the pier for boarding. A sergeant, speaking with the aid of a bullhorn, repeatedly announced, “As your name is called, sound off with your last name and last four.”

The novel’s story revolves around Joe and Bob, who are in the air force. This paragraph shows their journey with USNS General Walker, a ship going on the war. The phrase has been used in the second sentence. Here, all the soldiers are going to the battlefield with all of their gadgets or “bag and baggage.”

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “George and his family carried almost everything in the car’s trunk. They loved to go with their bag and baggage even if they are going for dinner.”

Example #2: “The army’s bag and artillery are like their bag and baggage as they carry everything with them.”

Example #3: “Jorgeson’s problems are like his bag and baggage. He can’t let go of the past, though he moved to another city.”

Example #4: “Patty carried her bag and baggage to the school. She was worried she might need all her books while taking notes.

Example #5: “Don’t carry your emotions to your work. Carrying them as bag and baggage will affect your work.”