Word Confusion: Dragged versus Drug

Posted March 27, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 17 February 2018

This particular word confusion has been my own bête noir for years, and I thought I’d better step up and explore it.

It seems reasonable for it to be a past tense for drag, but every time I’ve read it in someone’s story…it’s given me the quivers. A sure sign that something’s wrong, lol. No, not necessarily on their part, I’ve found my own misconceptions. And been glad for the opportunity to repair the omissions in my own breadth of knowledge. God forbid I should look stupid *eye roll, grin*

As Mignon Fogarty at Grammar Girl can tell you in “Dragged Versus Drug: Just say no to drug” with her brief look at the dialectical issues involved, you want to be very careful about when you use drug. And only for dialogue (or thoughts) for people coming from the southern part of the U.S. or as far west as Nebraska!

To forestall the coming storm, no, I’m not trying to poke fun at hunters or people with dental issues, the image is intended to shock thoughts awake.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

If you found this post on “Dragged versus Drug” interesting, consider tweeting it to your friends. Subscribe to KD Did It, if you’d like to track this post for future updates.

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Dragged Drug
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Grammar Girl

“A Young Man is Dragged into the Ditch” courtesy of Indymedia Ireland.

“These Guys Liked That Joke!” courtesy of Fishing Buddy.

Too bad they didn’t “drug” themselves over to a dentist…

Part of Grammar:
This looks at the Dragged versus Drug word confusion strictly from its use as a verb.
Past tense or past participle for drag

Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: drags
Gerund or present participle: dragging

Verb, irregular as past tense or past participle for drag


Verb, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: drugs
Gerund or present participle: drugging

Verb, intransitive:
Pull someone or something along forcefully, roughly, or with difficulty

  • [Of a person’s clothes or an animal’s tail] Trail along the ground
  • [Drag at] Catch hold of and pull something
  • Engage in a drag race
  • [Of an anchor] Fail to hold, causing a ship or boat to drift
  • [Of a process or situation] Continue at tedious and unnecessary length

[Drag on; informal; of a person] Inhale the smoke from a cigarette

Verb, transitive:
Pull someone or something along forcefully, roughly, or with difficulty

  • Take someone to or from a place or event, despite their reluctance
  • [Drag oneself] Go somewhere wearily, reluctantly, or with difficulty
  • Move an icon or other image across a computer screen using a tool such as a mouse
  • Search the bottom of a river, lake, or the sea with grapnels or nets

[Drag something up; informal] Deliberately mention an unwelcome or unpleasant fact

  • [Drag someone/something into] Involve someone or something in a situation or matter, typically when such involvement is inappropriate or unnecessary
  • [Drag something in/into] Introduce an irrelevant or inappropriate subject
  • [Drag someone/something down] Bring someone or something to a lower level or standard

[Of time, events, or activities] Pass slowly and tediously

  • [Of a process or situation] Continue at tedious and unnecessary length
  • [Drag something out] Protract something unnecessarily
Verb, irregular:
[Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S.; nonstandard] Pull someone or something along forcefully, roughly, or with difficulty

“Using drug as the past tense of drag is a dialect common to people who live in the southern United States, but linguists have noted that it is used frequently in states as far west as Nebraska” (Grammar Girl).

Do check out Mignon Fogarty’s tip on “just saying no, it’s too funny!

Verb, intransitive:
To take drugs for narcotic effect

Verb, transitive:
To affect with a drug

  • To stupefy by a narcotic drug
  • To mix a drug with food, drink, etc.

To administer a drug to

To lull, stupefy, or poison with or as if with a drug

Verb, intransitive:
Their habits dragged on the grass.

Desperately, Jinny dragged at his arm.

He dragged his butt across the floor.

The anchor dragged.

The day dragged—eventually it was time for bed.

The dispute between the two families dragged on for years.

He dragged on his cigarette.

Verb, transitive:
We dragged the boat up the beach.

I dragged my eyes away.

My girlfriend dragged me off to Atlantic City for a week.

Look what the cat dragged in!

I dragged myself out of bed each day.

Frogmen had dragged the local river.

Pieces of evidence about his early life were dragged up.

Politics were never dragged into the conversation.

The economy will be dragged down by inefficient firms.

He dragged out the process of serving them.

Verb, irregular:
No, do not use drug to indicate to drag someone/thing unless you are specifically using it to recreate a regional dialect—and trying to make the person speaking sound stupid.

Pa, we drug him home for the kids.

Look what we drug in!

Drug him on in here.

Verb, intransitive:
I like to drug up.

He’s drugging again.

John has spent the last ten years drinking and drugging.

She was convinced he was out drinking and drugging.

If you think you may have been drugged, get tested as soon as possible.

Verb, transitive:
Are you drugging that horse?

He drugged their coffee.

Better drug them to keep them quiet.

Adjective: dragged-out, draggier, draggiest, draggle-tailed, draggy
Noun: dragline
Verb, transitive: draggle
Noun: druggie
Phrasal Verb
drag something out
History of the Word:
Middle English from the Old English dragan or the Old Norse draga meaning to draw Middle English from the Old French drogue, possibly from the Middle Dutch droge vate, literally meaning dry vats, referring to the contents, i.e., dry goods.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Jonathan Abramowitz Lecturing in Bergen, Norway is Lennybgoldberg’s own work under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license while Teenage Drug Addicts by Artem (Flickr) is under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license; both are via Wikimedia Commons.

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2 responses to “Word Confusion: Dragged versus Drug

  1. ‘Bring and take’ are words that make me crazy! It seems that nobody ever wants to take anybody soup anymore. They say, “I’ll bring her some soup”.

    I also really dislike the word ‘got’. Do we really need it in the English language? Who came up with the ad campaign “Got Milk?” We should send them back to school!

    By the way, I love your fishing buddies!